Trapped Inside Trapped Inside: art to help refugees

We on Artig Gallery believe that art is an agent of change and social transformation capable of mobilizing millions of people in a common goal. Therefore, one of our goals is to communicate projects related to the world of art and design that seeks to transform or visualize a current social issue.

This time, we would like to present the project Trapped Inside - I am like you driven by our dear artist Gwen Versluis. This collective is part of the Inside Out Project, a global art project transforming messages of personal identity into works of art.

Trapped Inside

Trapped Inside shares 60 portraits of male refugees in Greece with the aim of making the crisis in Syria and Iraq visible to the world. The collective protest against the decadent situation of human rights of the refugees in Europe and announces the slogan "I am like you" with the aim of communicating the similarities between all human beings and our potential for transformation and change.

Gwen Versluis, an artist from our Art Collective, has been one of the creators of the project. She told us about the project and her incredible experience in Greece:

One thing was perfectly clear to me, after I returned from a 2 week humanitarian mission on Lesvos, in May, this year: This is REEL, not fiction. This is actually HAPPENING. Once I had seen the extent of the humanitarian tragedy of the refugee crisis in Greece, there was no way, I could go back to my old life just like that.

Thinking of the civil courage of many single individuals during WWII, who, with their humanitarian actions, saved lives of thousands, I realized that closing our eyes for what is happening at the borders of our continent and that yielding fears, which lead to racist tendencies, is dangerous. How can we be sure, that humanity and human rights will be applied in our own lives, if we refuse them to others? And what consequences will refusing humanity and dignity to others, now, have for us in future?

Trapped Inside

I decided to contribute on a personal level, using my favourite personal resources, art and communications; because I believe that the strongest motivational power comes from the things that we love. I remembered street artist JR's flamboyant speech as he won the TED-Prize 2011: «I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we'll turn the world... INSIDE OUT». I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do, so I suggested my own independent group action to Inside Out Project.

In July 2016, I visited refugee camp Karamanlis, near Sindos (Thessaloniki) in Greece, for the first time. Here, I connected with the people, living in the camp. I listened to their personal stories and took their pictures. 8 weeks later, in September, I went back for the second time. Together with refugees, of whom I had taken pictures, we built an installation with their portraits on the facade of a warehouse next to the camp. It was an amazing experience!

Trapped Inside

With the statement «I am like you» the group action Trapped Inside underlines the many similarities we have as human beings, and encourages empathy by leading us to ask ourselves: "What if I were like you? What if I were in your position?" While there is a lot of empathy towards the issues concerning women and children, media representation of male refugees is often linked to negative and violent incidents. For this reason “Trapped Inside” has chosen male refugees as its main focus. By focusing on male refugees, this project seeks to provoke a change in people's mind sets and aims at supporting a smoother integration by improving their image.

My goal now is to duplicate this action in European cities to bring the refugees and their message to the people of Europe.

If you want to know more about this initiative, assisting or participating you can visit Trapped Inside website.

Photo and video credits: Robi Crevatin