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Meet the Syrian artist who uses suitcases to recreate the homes refugees left behind

3 min read

Better Society
Source: Facebook/UnpackedRefugeeBaggage

UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage is a powerful multi-media installation that seeks to humanise the word “refugee.”

UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage seeks to humanize the word “refugee.”

This thought-provoking multi-media installation is the work of Syrian-born, New Haven (Connecticut) artist and architect Mohamad Hafez, and Iraqi-born writer and speaker Ahmed Badr. For UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage, Hafez sculpturally re-creates entire rooms, homes, buildings and landscapes that have suffered the ravages of war. Each piece is then embedded with the voices and stories of real people — from Afghanistan, Congo, Syria, Iraq and Sudan — who have fled those very rooms and buildings to build a new life in America. Their stories are collected and curated by Badr, who is himself an Iraqi refugee. Visitors experience short audio clips through headphones and can continue reading the stories online and on exhibit placards.

These suitcases recreate homes refugees left behind “Mohamad’s artwork is special in that it is pure and unassuming; he presents reality as it is, and invites the spectator to simultaneously experience horror, pain, and awe. ”
— AHMED BADR Source: Facebook/UNHCR

Intricate mini scenes recreate the homes that 10 real refugee families were forced to leave behind

Artist Mohamad Hafez created these miniature, three-dimensional dioramas spilling out from suitcases as a way to help tell stories of refugees and the struggles so many of them have had to face in recent years. 

The intricate mini scenes are recreations of the homes that 10 real refugee families were forced to leave behind, and each diorama is accompanied by audio the viewer can listen to via attached headphones, in which a refugee tells the story of what’s depicted.

The Syrian architect and artist, together with a student and former Iraqi refugee Ahmed Badr, created this moving and thought-provoking project called UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage that was first on display in at Yale University’s Whitney Humanities Center, then again at New Haven’s City-Wide Open Studios, and is currently on display at UNICEF Headquarters, 3 UN Plaza, New York, New York, until January 19th, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.

Below: a selection of images of the detailed dioramas. To see the full gallery of high quality images, visit UnpackedRefugee.com

Source: APlus

Source: Facebook/UnpackedRefugee
Source: Facebook/UnpackedRefugee
Source: Facebook/UnpackedRefugee
Source: Facebook/UnpackedRefugee
Source: Facebook/UnpackedRefugee
Source: Facebook/UnpackedRefugee
Syrian architect and artist, Mohamad Hafez, together with a student and former Iraqi refugee Ahmed Badr, created this moving and thought-provoking project called UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage.
2 artists | 10 suitcases | 10 real stories Syrian architect and artist, Mohamad Hafez, together with a student and former Iraqi refugee Ahmed Badr, created this moving and thought-provoking project called UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage. Source: Ali Alsamawi/UnpackedRefugee.com

Seeking to humanise the word “refugee” UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage seeks to humanise the word “refugee.” Created during the summer of 2017, this multi-media installation is the work of Syrian-born, New Haven CT artist and architect Mohamad Hafez and Iraqi-born writer and speaker Ahmed Badr. Source: Vimeo/UnpackedRefugee
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