A gigantic 20-foot tall inflatable refugee, which arrived in Copenhagen this week, is currently making headlines as it sails around the world. The sculpture is part of an effort by Belgian visual artist collective Schellekens & Peleman, who want to bring attention to the European refugee crisis- “a “symbol of the dehumanization of the refugee and the current refugee crisis happening in the world.”
More than a million migrants and refugees have crossed into Europe in the last year alone, sparking a crisis as countries struggled to cope with the influx, and creating division in the EU over how best to deal with resettling people. The vast majority arrived by sea but some migrants also made their way over land by way of Turkey and Albania.
Schellekens & Peleman’s sculpture depicts a migrant refugee wearing a life jacket and clutching his knees. As the figure rocks back and forth with the waves, one can see how vulnerable it is to the elements, demonstrating the terrible odds that real refugees must face at sea. With the help of the Hawila Project, the piece has so far traveled from Venice, to Antwerp and Uppsala, with plans to go on to Rotterdam and Melbourne.
Schellekens & Peleman have set up an international correspondence project so that refugees can initiate a conversation with those in a similar position. Visit their website for details.