Creative Responsibility and Human Rights: Telling the Untold Stories of the Crisis in the Mediterranean


In association with the Migration Museum Project
and the Migrant Rights Network 20 June: 1 – 3:00pm World Refugee Day.
The Ditch, Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT

This Learning Lab took the form of a moderated panel with short presentations and open discussion. A recent article by Guardian journalist, Jonathan Jones, set the agenda when he declared that ‘art’s response to migrant drownings should be way more aggressive’. Jones suggests that ‘the scale of our cruelty, the true consequences of all the rhetoric that de-humanises migrants, have become so lethally clear, surely art on such a theme should be less equivocal, more angry?’

Bringing a mix of people together who are actively engaged in making urgent interventions in the representation of the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, Learning Lab explored what might a creative arts response be and can it ever act alone?

It  showcased  examples from creative practitioners, commentators and researchers who are telling the story of the root causes of the migrant crisis through collaborative storytelling methods, media platforms and broadcasting channels.The aim was to set up a network of interested artists, journalists, activists, advocates, academics and policymakers with a view to sharing ideas and charting potential collaborations and storytelling partnerships.

Panel participants 

Preethi Nallu: Print and multimedia journalist who has reported from the Middle East, Asia and Europe. Focusing on human rights and development issues, she writes for Al Jazeera, TIME, Newsweek and other international outlets. Her most recent work for UNHCR highlights the plight of refugees and migrants at sea. She is currently working on a multimedia project called ‘Parallel Journeys: Seasons of Migration’ with photographer and writer, Iason Athanasiadis.

Ruben Anderson: Anthropologist/postdoctoral research fellow at the Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit, London School of Economics and author of Illegality Inc: Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe, 2014

Benjamin Dix: Director of Positive Negatives Ltd, which uses multimedia and traditional forms of art to represent global conflict, humanitarian and migration issues to wide and diverse audiences –

Richard Kotter: European Union Country Coordinator (and member of SOS Europe project group) for Amnesty International UK. He is Senior Lecturer in Economic / Political Geography, and Programme Leader for the MSc in Disaster Management and Sustainable Development, Department of Geography, Northumbria University at Newcastle upon Tyne.

Maurice Wren: Chief Executive at the British Refugee Council. Maurice was Director of Asylum Aid since 2002, having previously held senior management roles at Shelter and the Housing Associations Charitable Trust.

image: Severed Roots, Hasam Fratati, 2012

Learning Labs form part of the Out of Place Action-Research Platform (a project led by Counterpoints Arts’ Learning Lab, in partnership with Royal Holloway, University of London and FilmAid)