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On Saturday 15th December 2012, a group of local residents, migrants, artists and activists gathered on a beach in Balbriggan near Mosney Reception Centre. In a gesture of solidarity, and in commemoration for the thousands of migrants who have drowned attempting to reach Europe, the assembled community launched a flotilla of paper boats made from Irish citizenship application forms into the sea.
Immigration is one of the biggest single issues facing contemporary societies, a permanent state of global disorder exists where increasing numbers of irregular migrants leave home in search of a better life. Thousands of migrants make epic journeys across the continent of Africa by land until they reach the gateways to Europe. Journeys are temporarily stalled by high security fences in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and the Mediterranean Sea in north Africa where ruthless people smugglers overload small fishing boats with hundreds of people resulting in disastrous loss of life. More than 17,000 unnamed migrants have drowned attempting to reach European shores since 1993.
Through a series of collaborations with individuals and groups who have left their countries of origin in the most urgent of times, many are living in temporary asylum Reception Centre’s such as Mosney, in Ireland for more than ten-years. Others are living on the periphery of European cities, near harbours in derelict buildings and squatter camps, and in forests behind six-metre high razor wire fences in North Africa waiting for an opportunity to enter the Spanish enclaves of Cueta and Melilla.
Through a series of long-term encounters, and in many cases close personal relationships with a growing collective of migrants from all over the world I have collaborated to produce video installations, photographs, texts and performances. These transformative actions set out to dispel myths and reductive stereotyping surrounding transnational migration. Instead, migrants reclaim their agency and participate as active ‘informal citizens’.