Exhibition — 23 Oct 2021 until 6 Mar 2022
In POST/NO/BILLS, the Stedelijk shows contemporary graphic design. For this second edition the floor is given to the collective Now You See Me Moria. On view are photos taken by residents of the Moria refugee camp in Greece, and the activist posters that graphic designers subsequently created based on the photos.
Now You See Me Moria was initiated by Spanish image editor Noemí, who lives and works in the Netherlands. She noticed the photos of Amir, a young Afghan refugee and photographer who had been living in the refugee camp for a year. Noemí suggested him to give the photos a large stage to draw attention to the inhumane situation in Moria. Four more photographers joined: Ali and Mustafa from Afghanistan, Qutaeba from Syria and Reza from Iran. The account @now_you_see_me_moria now has 37,000 followers and is attracting the attention of international media and organizations. Later, more residents joined and started to photograph their situation.
They portray their daily life in the camp; in the photos, residents are playing football, cooking, washing dishes and dancing, but the poor conditions in the camp are visible and unavoidable. Even though the photos are not always aesthetically pleasing or perfectly framed, their strength lies in their authenticity and purity and sometimes they give an image of unexpected beauty.
OPEN CALL FOR POSTERS
In January 2021, the collective called on graphic designers, professional and self-taught, to create posters based on the photos, to which 446 designers responded. The posters could be downloaded and printed and were visible on windows and walls in numerous places in Europe on Valentine's Day February 14, 2021. The campaign depicted the anger and impotence and was an indictment of the failing European refugee policy. The photos and posters give a new perspective on reality; apart from the fire in September last year, hardly any images of the camp have come out.
PRINT A POSTER
Noemí: “With the current situation in Afghanistan and the pressure on refugee camps, a humane solution for Camp Moria is all the more urgent. Visitors will therefore have the opportunity to print a poster free of charge in the exhibition. Everyone is then free to draw attention to this humanitarian crisis.”
Thomas Castro, curator of graphic design: “The Stedelijk has a long tradition of graphic design and photography, and an important international collection in those areas. POST/NO/BILLS takes a central position in the museum, around the historic staircase. There I aim to show current graphic design that responds to what is currently happening in the field and in society. In this case I wanted to give the residents of Moria agency to show their living conditions. It is impressive what the open call has brought about: all kinds of people felt the need to respond, from the professional designer to the 14-year-old layman behind his PC. The posters show the power of the graphic form, to convey a message with language and image.”
In collaboration with Paradox, Raoul Gottschling en Christian Knöpfel, the collective Now You See Me Moria developed an ‘action book’ that functions as a ready-made protest object. It includes 446 posters, 15 photos, the Now You See Me Moria manifesto and statements by Amir, Qutaeba, Ali, Mustafa and Noemí. 50 Euros, available at the museum shop and sold online.
Moria on the Greek island of Lesbos is the largest refugee camp in Europe. It was intended to house 3,000 people, but up to 20,000 lived there at the peak of last Summer. In September 2020, a fire destroyed the camp, and about 7,000 people were forced to move to a new camp, Kara Tepe, better known as Moria 2. Conditions there have deteriorated dramatically: human rights are violated on a daily basis, journalists and photographers are not allowed to enter and emergency workers are instructed not to take photos. The visibility of the camp in international media has thus been reduced to almost zero.
Many photos were taken clandestinely with a cell phone and the refugees are not recognizable. To ensure their safety, last names of the photographers and those closely involved are not given. All those involved in this project cooperate on a voluntary basis. It is an internationally growing (citizen) movement – to which more and more civil society organizations are joining to bring the conditions in Moria to light and put it on the political agenda, aiming to/on an immediate evacuation of the camps and a change in the European migration policy.
Earlier this year, Now You See Me Moria was, in different forms, on display at the Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam and Foam, Amsterdam. Elsewhere in Europe presentations take place, e.g. in Antwerp, Brussels, Munich, Vienna, Barcelona, Madrid, and Getxo (Spain), and in Viseu (Portugal) – this Summer at 23 locations at once.