Mohamad Hafez (born Damascus, Syria, 1984). Baggage Series 4. Mixed media (plaster, paint, antique suitcase, found objects), 76.2×76.2×12.9 cm. Courtesy of the artist
Baggage Series 4 alludes to the traumas that refugees carry with them—the toll it takes physically and mentally. Each painstakingly detailed, multilayered model stretches skyward from suitcases that were themselves donated by the descendants of earlier generations of immigrants to the United States, who fled Europe and the devastation of the Second World War. My juxtaposition of contemporary art and historical artifact physically joins the stories of Syrian refugees to America’s long heritage as a nation of immigrants. In its ability to connect with audiences at the level of their lineage, Baggage Series 4 transcends a purely humanitarian position and intervenes in the complicated racial and nationalist dimensions of refugee resettlement today. —M.H.
- 600 × 751