The Precarious Nature of 78 Million Displaced People
The precarious nature of displacement is all too often reduced to statistics and charts suggesting that the number of forcibly displaced people both within countries and across borders as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence, human rights violations or events seriously disturbing public order has nearly doubled in the last 10 years; there were 41 million forcibly displaced people as of the end of 2010, and the figure was 78.5 million by the end of 2020.2 This represents the highest number available on record (UNHCR, 2021).
Although, reports by the UN and other agencies are useful and critical tools to map and manage the great machinery of global politics Thierry Mandon's art brings 'home' the everyday dislocations of individuals and the risks involved when you multiply the situation by 78.5 million.
There is no place like home, that's for sure, it is our first universe and our first world, a place we know first- and never forget. A place filled with familiar people, things, practices and representations.
Our places evolve as we ascribe qualities to the material and social interactions: ours or theirs; safe or dangerous; public or private; unfamiliar or known; accessible or not. Subconsciously or not, we learn to read our places – sounds – sunlight- shadow- material – void and solid, corners – streets and lanes, scale and condition – memories of past experiences subtle and pronounced. The mere sight of a building – a former home, an old trysting spot, or a hated workplace – can be an instant memory – jerker. Equally the sheer familiarity of a street, an unconscious sense of a particular degree of enclosure, its sunny side, a familiar turn, can create a rootedness in a place and an affiliation with the local and its community
It's little wonder then, that due to conflict, climate or chaos the wrenching trauma of displacement is inconceivably entangled with negative emotions, loss of identity and disorientation. Singularly, these everyday dehumanising factors challenge preconceived notions of morality, the value of life and a sense of belonging now and in generations to come. When this fabric of human misery is unfolded 78.5 million times the extent of the social distress is obvious.
Image By: Thierry Mandon