photo & text by nacrowe
its difficult reading about IRAQI, AFGHANI, SYRIAN and KURDISH refugees stranded in a HAPHAZARD, MAKESHIFT sites near CALAIS in 2016 as documented by KATE EVANS in her deeply affecting THREADS: FROM THE REFUGEE CRISIS (VERSO, 2017) graphic novel. its not just the INHUMANITY of EUROPEAN nations bickering amongst themselves regarding RESPONSIBILITY for this wave of immigrants (especially when they themselves are directly CULPABLE for the immense TURMOIL of these foreign conflicts) or the POLITICAL POSTURING and REGRESSIVE POPULAR RHETORIC that spew HATE and RACISM; what is most damaging is the manner in which people dont see the humanity in each other. reading this in 2022, its almost impossible to not see the current UKRAINIAN WAR and the ease with which EUROPEAN nations have taken such in refugees (albeit the UNITED KINGDOM being the exception again) as HYPOCRITICAL and baldly BIGOTED.
what i appreciate about THREADS is that it takes the perspective of EVANS and her experience volunteering at refugee camps in CALAIS, where she met with people, helped sort and distribute supplies, and drew portraits for inhabitants. this act of using art is such a powerful vehicle for giving evidence to the refugee's individual humanity. that they do exist and are accounted for and appreciated. EVANS also uses images of her phone to showcase anonymous messages (from what are presumed to be CONSERVATIVE BRITISH detractors back home) from those that see these refugees as an invading force with subhuman values bent on leeching from the welfare state. its appalling to read such but its that ingrained sense of PRIVILEGE and NARCISSISM that showcase the real values of the BRITISH commonwealth. the book ends with a note that the BRITISH are building bigger walls near the CHUNNEL outside CALAIS (i.e. the entrance to the UNITED KINGDOM).
i was in VENEZUELA for two years starting in 2013 when the economy collapsed in the aftermath of HUGO CHAVEZ' passing and the unrelated fall of oil prices not long thereafter. the whole country was collapsing in on itself and people were desperate to leave. some friends that i knew made it out to PANAMA, COLOMBIA and ARGENTINA, but most were attempting to go to FLORIDA to meet up with family. all left with the intention and hope of one day returning to their homeland. and that is the huge fallacy that people who dont appreciate the situation of refugees are caught up in; these people didnt want to leave their homeland. EUROPEANS and AMERICANS act like being in their countries is a reward, whereas for these people what they are looking for is SALVATION from dangerous and unlivable conditions for them and their families. fleeing was an act of EMPATHY and DESPERATION on behalf of their children.
to shit on them is such a SULLYING, DESPICABLE act. and the FRENCH and BRITISH authorities do so out of assumed MORAL SUPERIORITY and petty domestic politics. unless their UKRAINIAN and look like them. its all so DEPRESSING. just happy people like EVANS exist to bear witness and take these PATHETIC leaders to account through ART.