The ongoing migrant crisis is one of the worst humanitarian disasters of recent years. While in 2017 alone, there were at least 146,000 recorded arrivals in Europe. However, after fleeing oppressive regimes, famines and natural disasters, many of the people who make the perilous journey are often left stranded in a limbo between their past and their future as they wait to be granted asylum. Or worse still, many don’t survive.
Even though we might be able to empathise with the struggles felt by those leaving their homeland, we can never truly understand the ordeal. It’s something the Empathy Museum is attempting to remedy with a reworking of their acclaimed 2015 exhibition A Mile In My Shoes.
The exhibition, titled A Mile In My Shoes: Migration, will be held in a giant shoe box on Lambeth high street, right outside of the Migration Museum at The Workshop. Inside, visitors will find pairs of shoes worn by migrants along with audio stories of the journeys undertaken by the owners of the shoes. This edition of the exhibition will focus on stories from migrants who have made London their home.
Some of the stories include the inevitable instability of being a European living in a post-Brexit Britain, as well as the simple yet damning feeling of not being wanted anymore. There’s also a tale of an Indian woman who had neither seen black or white people before and couldn’t stop herself from staring when she first arrived in the UK. And a story of a barber who has learned when to turn off his clippers and just listen to his customers speak.
Liv Little, founder and editor of gal-dem, is also involved. Her audio documentary tells of a young girl who fled the Congo with her mother as she attempts to make contact with the father she left behind. The exhibition promises to be both harrowing and enlightening – you can listen to a preview of the stories below.
A Mile In My Shoes: Migration is on at the Migration Museum in Lambeth from February 8 to February 25