I am grateful (?)

During my two-year asylum journey in the Netherlands, I was forced to move between five different refugee centres. In this installation, I have reconstructed one room of each of the five camps:

Ter Apel,

Wassenaar,

Luttelgeest,

Wageningen,

and Amsterdam.

I am grateful (?)

A Journey to a Legal Refugee Status in the Netherlands!

Behind the walls of the refugee centres lies another dimension, a place that doesn’t look like the Netherlands. You might think that the route is the hardest part of any refugee's journey, but unfortunately, the journey continues even within the country of arrival— in this case, the Netherlands. The struggle persists within the confines of the Dutch refugee centres. Arriving in the Netherlands should mark the end of the story, where everyone can live happily ever after. But the reality is that another journey, not much better than the previous one, has just begun.

In this project, I am trying to depict the struggles refugees face in the Dutch refugee centres. I aim to create spaces that reflect the emotions experienced within them. How do these spaces change over endless waiting? How do they reflect various emotions? How do they embody the psychological state of their inhabitants? What do spaces represent if they identify a system of repetition?

Through recreating spaces based on various scenarios and experiences—both my own and those of many others in camps across the Netherlands—I strive to shed light on the ongoing journey refugees face even after reaching their destination. This project is an exploration of the intersection between physical space and emotional experience, an attempt to make tangible the often invisible struggles of those seeking safety and longing for a new beginning.

Actual rooms

I didn't think about the impact of materials until I experienced this journey. The leather matters, disposable bed sheets, the exact same fireproof furniture, the same products and food for more than two years. My individuality disappeared, and my preferences didn't matter.

Nail clippers room

Even a simple item like a nail clipper had a significant impact on me. However, this sense of gratitude changed over time. Every week, we received the same items. The same vile soap for hair and body. The same tasteless and expired toothpaste. The same teeny-tiny pad. Even the nail clipper became irritating.

Trauma room

As soon as your body and mind relax, old traumas begin to surface. Additionally, you are surrounded by people with traumas even more severe than yours. You become confused between your own trauma and theirs.

Prison room

The room feels like a small prison, isolated from the city and social life. Every aspect of your life is dominated by constant monitoring and an abundance of rules.

Label room

I reject the label of 'refugee'; I refuse to be introduced as such because I am more than just that label. However, despite my efforts to shed it, it remains attached to me. This word is often associated with negative connotations such as poverty, lack of intelligence, and criminality. Furthermore, politically, refugees are frequently portrayed as the villains.

Writing room

How many people lived in this room? How many people used the same mattress and pillow? Many people leave traces, and one of these traces is writing on the wall.