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Exhibition: Sink Without Trace

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Sink Without Trace, exhibition, migrant deaths at sea, P21 Gallery, Lucy Wood, Maya Ramsay,Migrant’s graves are marked with numbers not names; the majority of their bodies are unidentified. 

Sink Without Trace, an exhibition held at the P21 Gallery, in Chalton Street, London, presented work on the subject of migrant deaths at sea.

Through drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and video works, the exhibition, which ran from 13 June to 13 July, offered alternative perspectives on a subject often only presented through the eyes of the media and politicians.

These included found objects from shipwrecked migrant boats in Sicily, anonymous drawings made on migrant boats and works made by unaccompanied minors in transit camps in Calais.

Sink Without Trace also included photographic documentation of the forensic project relating to the shipwrecked migrant boat that is currently on display at the Venice Biennale, ​and a public programme of events in collaboration with Counterpoints Arts, Refugee Week and Westminster University.

The exhibition included artists from Denmark, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraqi Kurdistan, Israel, Italy, Slovakia, South Africa, Sudan and the UK who are currently living in France, Germany, Italy and the UK.

Among them were:

Victoria Burgher is a British multi-disciplinary artist whose work ranges from sculptural installations and site-specific interventions to collaborative public ventures. Her work Surviving (2019) was an installation of hundreds of fragments of a foil survival blanket cast in ceramic and laminated with gold leaf.

Tamara Kametani is a Slovakian artist based in the UK who makes installation, video and photography works based on issues around migration and migrant deaths at sea.

Half a Mile from Lampedusa (2017) was a cyanotype of underwater video footage shot by the Italian navy to record the scene of the 3 October 2013 shipwreck in the Mediterranean. The cyanotype faded out throughout the duration of the exhibition, symbolising our memories of these events.

Maya Ramsay is an artist based in the UK who presented works from her Arts Council England funded project Countless (2016-18) working with migrant’s graves and shipwrecked migrant boats.

The Countless project includes a series of 30 graphite rubbings from the graves of 30 unidentified migrants who died at sea while trying to reach Europe. In 2017 it was 30 years since the first recorded migrant shipwreck occurred in Europe.

Migrant’s graves are marked with numbers rather than names, as the majority of their bodies remain unidentified.

Ramsay also exhibited a short film Leave or Remain, made on a shipwrecked migrant boat, and found objects from ‘boat graveyards’.

Aida Silverstri is an Eritrean-Italian artist based in the UK. Silverstri’s photographic project ‘Even this will pass’ (2013-14) depicted the journeys of Eritrean refugees from their homeland to the UK.

Her series of blurred portraits were inscribed with the journey that each sitter took in order to reach the UK, alongside a text detailing the sitter’s account of the journey.

Lucy Wood is a British artist based in the UK, who, for her project TO6411 (2013) Wood set sail on a 4000-mile solo voyage in a North African migrant boat from Lampedusa, arriving in London nearly four months later.

She travelled with the objects that had been abandoned by the migrants on the boat and other found objects that she had collected.

T06411 was moored on the Regent’s Canal near the P21 Gallery during Refugee Week – 17- 23 June 2019.

Wood also showed sculpture and wall-based works inside the gallery.

Sink Without Trace was curated by Maya Ramsay and Federica Mazzara.

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