The refugee crisis that we are facing today is the most serious since World War II. Millions of people are forced to flee their homes due to armed conflict or extreme poverty. This situation has brought to our society a lot of uncertainty and it raises many questions. The experience of contact with other cultures is new and unknown for the countries of Eastern Europe. It has not yet been enough time to get to know each other. We are only at the beginning of a mutual dialogue.
The exhibition “Fear Of The Unknown” is trying to overcome the barrier of non-communication. Exhibited works of domestic and foreign artists deal with the topic of refugees, but also with the topic of our relationship and reaction to them.
The phenomenon of fearing the unknown, which appears in the title of the exhibition, determines to a large extent the form of public discussion in Slovakia and Eastern Europe. The topic of other cultures or religions remains quite distant to our everyday lives. It is not experience that contributes to the tension within society, but rather reproduced images and statements. As a result, we often do not relate to those who come to Europe in distress as genuine “unknowns”, but rather as representatives of a particular group.
Art provides a platform on which it is possible to raise a fundamental social topic on a symbolic level without any black and white polarisation. Even though the artists are not experts on the refugee issue they express their personal feelings and opinions and confront them with those of the audience. The aim of this art exhibition a dialogue between people. Art enables us to avoid simplification limited to “the good” and “the bad” and to focus on imagination and visions. The exhibition can be the place where all can speak without anybody winning a debate.
The exhibited artworks do not only talk about the issue of today’s refugee crisis but also about other closely related topics. Some of the artworks have the form of art reportage, some were even created in cooperation with refugees or people working with them. Some of the artworks call for reflection, while others express a protest. The majority of the artworks were created directly for the exhibition and talk about the given topic in the context of Central and Eastern Europe. The artists exhibiting their works very sensitively perceive the situation and of the “mood” in society and respond to it. Political and critical themes are a long-term feature of the work of many of them.
The exhibited artworks are not presented as documents and do not claim any absolute truth. Instead, they create space for pausing, reflection and banishing of fears. At the same time, they represent a humanistic appeal. The exhibition reminds us that the issue of the refugee crisis is not something which develops unconnected with us, rather we are part of it. We are also, however, part of its possible solution.