We are the Belgian visual artists collective Schellekens & Peleman. We developed a 6 meter high ‘Inflatable Refugee’ as a symbol of the dehumanization of the refugee and the current refugee crisis happening in the world.

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The surrealism of this iconic figure eliminates fear as being the leitmotiv of many discussions and debates.

We proportionally enlarged the ‘Inflatable Refugee’ to match the reactions his arrival in the Western world evoked. His size represents how we perceive him. We have chosen to create this inflatable figure from the same material as the boats, used by human traffickers to cross the Mediterranean Sea, are made from. It’s too fragile to withstand the waves of the sea, making the passengers on these boats extremely vulnerable.

The advantage of art is that it slows down our thinking and observation. Space and time are created automatically. Both are a necessity for empathy. Art investigates how we can approach the world in a different way, it can provide us with escape routes and it can take up the role of a strange kind of compass.

We, as visual artists, observe society, distil elements from it and create with it, to then return and present our observations. Also we feel the need to make critical remarks on what’s happening nowadays, by making art. As artists we believe we have to be at the centre of debate, rather than giving answers or opinions, never patronizing and always with a typical Belgian sense of humour and surrealism, with poetry and compassion.

We want to bring our art, our visions and our stories to a broad audience. We call it our art-for-all principle.

More info: dirkschellekens.com | Facebook

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