An unprecedented number of headlines related to migration issues have been in the news these days. While officials put forward their vision of migrants’ future, the voices of those who experienced migration are often left unheard. Once lived, migration often becomes a hidden part of one’s personal history, not necessary shared even with close friends.
Meanwhile, the research shows that the number of international migrants worldwide has continued to grow rapidly over the past fifteen years reaching 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000.
Nearly two thirds of all international migrants live in Europe (76 million) or Asia (75 million). Northern America hosted the third largest number of international migrants (54 million), followed by Africa (21 million), Latin America and the Caribbean (9 million) and Oceania (8 million). Women comprise slightly less than half of all international migrants. Female migrants outnumber male migrants in Europe and Northern America.
Social Fabric of Migration is an art project by Varvara Zhemchuzhnikova, a Russian-Canadian textile artist and designer currently graduating from the Fashion and Collection Design programme at Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland . Her working practice focuses on sustainable development and emotional attachment in design and textiles. Varvara is using canvases that evoke the Finnish traditional craft technique ryijy as a means to visualise how similar and different migration experiences can be nowadays. She invites people to pick a yarn that they feel is connected with their story of migration. Participants may also share their experiences by answering a series of questions or writing a statement in their own words via survey (link to survey). Each yarn is incorporated into the canvas, and together the stories become part of a fabric, just like individuals become interwoven into communities. A journal is created for each canvas to archive the stories of participants.
Varvara started working on the project while reflecting on and grappling with her own experience of moving from one country to another during which she created her first canvas called “Housewife-in-Residence”. Now she documents stories of those who went through a similar experience: “As an artist I aim to find ways to visualise migrants' stories and emotionally connect migrants to their new community, with the aim of fostering empathy within contemporary society”
The Social Fabric of Migration Online edition is a second canvas in a series, that consists of stories told by people from all over the world and yarns send personally or described to the artist. This is a canvas dedicated to people whom artist met online.
“Personal projects Exhibition”, September 2-3, 2015, Lume Gallery, Hämeentie 135 C, Helsinki, Finland (organized by AALTO University, School of Art, Design and Architecture, Helsinki, Finland).
The project was nominated as the “Best project” among almost 40 different projects.
“Social Fabric of Migration”, May 5-26, 2017, Harald Herlin Learning Centre, Otaniementie 9, 02150 Espoo, Finland.
The project is a part of AALTO Festival 2017.