Danish art space dedicated to refugees opens amid recent migrant tragedy

Center for Art on Migration Politics in Copenhagen is the first of its kind in Europe

The Center for Art on Migration Politics (Camp), a nonprofit exhibition space focusing on issues relating to asylum and migration, opened its doors in Copenhagen on 17 April. “We want to allow the issue of refugees to be broached more visually instead of just discussing it on another panel or at a conference,” says Tone Olaf Nielsen from the Danish curatorial duo Kuratorisk Aktion, which founded Camp. To her knowledge, the centre is the first of its kind in Europe and opens amid the latest people-trafficking tragedy that killed more than 800 migrants in the Mediterranean.

Camp Life (until 17 June), the centre’s inaugural exhibition, features nine contemporary artists whose work examines the detention centre “as an extreme response” to asylum seeking. The Rwandan artist Dady de Maximo staged a fashion show with refugees modelling clothes including life jackets, barbed wire and bags used by the UN to transport goods to refugee camps. According to de Maximo, who lost members of his family in the Rwandan genocide, says the clothes represent “the tragedy, sorrow and all that is related to life in refugee camps”. He also included a beautiful dress, however, as a symbol of hope.

In another work, Nermin Durakovic used furniture similar to that he encountered in an asylum centre when coming from Bosnia to Denmark in the 1990s.

Camp is supported by the Danish Arts Council and the private foundation Knud Højgaards Fond, among others. It is located in the Trampoline House in Copenhagen, an independent community centre that offers support to refugees.

Camp Life will be followed by one with the working title Forms of Displacement. If more funding can be raised, exhibitions will continue after 2016.