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Helen Dewhurst

The following work has been selected in response to the theme of ‘war’, displacement’ and ‘refuge’ and have been chosen from the artists' inquiry into current experiences of the UK Immigration System.

‘Where Do You Want To Go?

Documentary photographs capture images of gates at sites currently detaining asylum seekers as they await the outcome of their asylum claims. The images look at gate structures as symbolic both physically, politically and psychologically. Draped with striking blue material, they create a sense of the internal activities being hidden from public view. While creating privacy, this draping also suggests a sense of political concealment and definition of the site being ‘off limits’ to normal levels of legal observation and scrutiny.

“Unlike most European countries, the UK currently has no statutory upper time limit that a person can be held in immigration detention’’ (Migration Observatory, UK).

The stress that this process of ‘Indefinite Detention’ causes on individuals claiming asylum in the UK has been described as ‘inhumane’ and ‘re-traumatising’ of individuals already suffering as a result of war, torture or persecution in their own country. At a time when the UK is at a pivotal moment politically, debating whether to leave the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), the images ask us to reflect on whether in a future society, these gates will be ‘closed’ or ‘open’. What will become of the final enclaves of tolerance and safety globally if we close ourselves down and shut ourselves off? In this potential future, where will we go to find safety and refuge if we need it?

Artist Bio:

Helen is a multi-disciplinary artist, designer and creative technologist investigating the experiential interplay between human body, technology and environment.

Exploring themes around the physical, social and psychological experiences of the body, her interdisciplinary work moves between sound, sculpture, materials and video, responding to site, architecture and setting, often using playful interaction to generate new ways of experiencing and engaging creative agency for audiences.

Interweaving technology with the audience’s physical action, she creates sonic environments and live encounters in the form of installations, exploring the power of collective experience to bring people together.



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