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Fri, 12 Jan



Undocumented? : An exhibition about migration on the edges of Europe

An immersive video installation by artist and academic Nishat Awan, tracing journeys of migration at the edges of Europe.

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Undocumented? : An exhibition about migration on the edges of Europe
Undocumented? : An exhibition about migration on the edges of Europe

Time & Location

12 Jan 2024, 16:00 – 29 Feb 2024, 20:00

London, 1 Pool St, London E20 2AF, UK

About the Event

Documents play a central role in any journey but in the lives of the undocumented they take on mythical status. This lack of documents is often compensated by stories, advice and anecdotes from those who have gone before. They are crucial to navigating across what are hostile grounds and unknown lands.

Co-curated by artist and academic Professor Nishat Awan, Undocumented? explores journeys of migration as a series of situated vignettes from the edges of Europe. It documents lives caught in movement, lives that for those policing the borders of Europe would be better left undocumented, as mere statistics.

The exhibition traces a route through the borderlands of the 'refugee crisis' narrating stories of migrant journeys and the clandestine crossing of borders. An unfinished and provisional Atlas of European Belonging visualises Europe through its margins and the spaces of transit, movement and stasis produced by those on the move.

Upcoming Events:

  • 22nd January, 17:00-19:00: Vignettes as Way of Seeing Seminar Nishat Awan and Kara Blackmore will present their emerging research on vignettes. In this seminar they will examine how the format of vignettes can be a useful way to understand difficult migrant stories. Thinking with the exhibition Undocumented? they discuss migration as a dynamic set of experiences in which research can only capture a glimpse into lived realities. They focus on the medium of film and the exhibition space as sites of evidence to understand the poetics of narrative as seen in vignettes.
  • 29th February 2024, 17:00-19:00: Poetry as Record – An Interactive Workshop Exploring Ethical Documenting of Migrant Stories How can we use imaginative forms as a way of telling our own stories on our own terms? This workshop considers how different forms of evidence are created and used. Through poetry, we will share how to create one’s own verbal and textual material. We will illustrate how poetry can exist as a creative form of record keeping, telling migration stories and as research materials.

Previous Events:

  • 16th November, 18:00-20:00: on the original opening day we hosted an informal sharing and caring space for staff, stueents and area residents affected by voilence
  • 30th November, 18:30-20:30: exhibition opening with refreshments and talk by the curators
  • • 14th December, 18:00-19:30: Topological Atlas Platform Launch

Presentation of the interactive digital platform 'Topological Atlas'. The architects, designers and researchers behind this work discussed their methodology and processes around development of this unique web platform. They will focused on the relationship between architecture and evidence from their experiences working in archives, conducting interviews and coding materials such as fieldnotes, observations, documents, maps and photographs.

Plan your visit

The exhibition runs from 30 November 2023 - 29 February 2024.

Visit Monday - Saturday, 10am - 6pm, no need to book.

Tickets are required for specific events

(Statement of Postponement, November 2023)

Our team, through both our personal and research connections, has been deeply impacted by recent events in Palestine and Israel as well as the violence in Sudan. With ongoing murders, and destruction of vital infrastructure, we are not always able to focus on daily activities. Caring for our communities in the Middle East and North Africa is both urgent and emotionally taxing. It is for this reason that we postponed the opening of Undocumented? to the 30 November 2023. We used this time to pause and collect our minds so that we could meaningfully showcase the connected work related to migration. We also needed opportunities to tend to the brokenness we feel as we watch violence unfold in real time.

This statement is a call to care. Let us connect with our neighbours, our colleagues and strangers to do check-ins, to recognise that things are not okay. We, the curators of Undocumented?, to be held at the UCL Urban Room, do not believe in ‘pushing through’ or ignoring the impacts that conflict has on us.

On the 16 November the curatorial team hosted a gathering to mourn lives, to huddle together for strength and to acknowledge the pain that we feel. The event was an informal gathering. We gather to create a brave place to talk with an ethos of inclusion regardless of your background or personal experience. We recognise that you do not need to have friends and family killed by violence to be crippled by inhumanity.

-Dr. Kara Blackmore & Professor Nishat Awan (Undocumented? Curators)

Nishat Awan

Nishat Awan is based at the UCL Urban Lab where she leads the European Research Council funded project, Topological Atlas, focusing on undocumented migration, border regimes and their visual representation. She is interested in modes of spatial representation, particularly in relation to the digital and the limits of witnessing as a form of ethical engagement with distant places.

Her book, Diasporic Agencies (Routledge, 2016) addressed the subject of how architecture and urbanism can respond to the consequences of increasing migration. In 2015 she was an Independent Social Research Foundation early career fellow working on the project, Edges of Europe, exploring European belonging through migrant experience. She has also addressed alternative modes of architectural production in the co-authored book Spatial Agency (Routledge, 2011) and the co-edited book Trans-Local-Act (aaa-peprav, 2011).

Kara Blackmore

Dr Kara Blackmore is a curator and researcher who works at the intersections of arts, heritage, and social repair. Her practice is informed by long-term collaborations in areas affected by conflict and migration. Kara is the Curator of the UCL Urban Room where she supports experiential teaching, leads exhibition-based research, and fosters community dialogue.

She is also the Principal Investigator of the AHRC funded Art Allies project at the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa. For this research, Kara works with colleagues in South Sudan and Colombia to investigate how artists and allied activists stay safe in regions impacted by prolonged violence.

About the UCL Urban Room

Located at One Pool Street, the public-facing UCL Urban Room hosts events, exhibitions, workshops and engagement with local stakeholders, professional audiences, and the wider public. Exploring the impact of industry, globalisation, regeneration and gentrification on the six Olympic Park boroughs and their people, UCL Urban Room is a partnership between UCL Urban Laboratory, The Bartlett, School for the Creative and Cultural Industries and UCL Library Services: Special Collections.

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