Seventeen thousand, this is the number of sculptures exhibited in a new installation by the Swedish collective Skaparkollektivet Forma. The group has tried to draw attention to the individuality of 17,000 young Afghan refugees that the Swedish government intends to repatriate. Unaccompanied minors arrived in Sweden in 2015, for a total of 23,500 in that year, and were fully integrated into their adoptive communities. However, the government seems to have changed course and has decided to back out.
Working with 1,500 volunteers, Skaparkollektivet Forma created small sculptures to represent each individual affected by the planned government uprooting. The works are glued to 34 looms in groups of 500, which allows for an easily transportable touring sculpture.
The collective’s work has had such a resonance that some young people have been allowed to stay, but it seems that most of the refugees will be repatriated.
“In the migration debate, living human beings tend to turn into anonymous volumes: we wanted to understand what this five-digit number actually represented. The installation makes the number 17,000 visible and above all shows that behind each number there is a person, there is a personality, a story, a work of art”.
The work was initially exhibited at the Liljevalchs art gallery, which is an independent public gallery in Stockholm.
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