Representation, Empathy and Identification - Negotiating Power and Powerlessness in Art on Migration

  • Erik Berggren Museet för glömska and Linköping University (REMESO), Sweden
Keywords: Migration, identification, victims, systems, powerlessness


A commonplace idea, and worry, in much political art is the emphasis on not to victimize the object/subject in artistic strategies, and to portray people as subjects with agency. And the way to do this is to allow for identification. This article asks if this strong idea might be shaped by an ameliorating guilt for victims, which in turn is partially informed by an inability to free the gaze from a hegemonic view of people as agents on a market. Instead the article looks at some contemporary artists who surface an opposite recognition, the radical lack of power for large groups within the global migration system, without attempts at temporary symbolic solutions. It will be argued that this is and has always been a ground for political mobilisation and solidarity.


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