There’s a very different EU flag on display at Praca Europa in Lisbon, Portugal. ICY & SOT’s permanent public art intervention, in collaboration with Underdogs Gallery, is made from fencing and barbed wire, reflecting both “the physical barriers that migrants face while trying to enter Europe” and the hope they hold on to while enduring “inhuman conditions” in refugee camps.
Drawing gaze to the sky, the installation is positioned by a river that runs into the ocean, alluding to the sea voyage that many migratory people undertake in search of peace, safety, a better life, on European soil.
It was their work in Greece with refugees, planting vegetable gardens, that introduced me to this ballsy art duo. Unable to return to their home country, the pair were granted ‘political refugee’ status from the UN and are now based in New York.
The ‘Iranian Banksys’ explore the contemporary human condition, from human rights, social injustice and homelessness, to capitalism’s failures, climate change and environmental degradation. Yet despite reflecting harsh realities, they display common threads of empathy, optimism and hope. Continuing to address border control and the refugee crisis, their solo exhibition, ‘Fences Faces’, is on show at Danysz Gallery (at 78 rue Amelot in Paris) until 21 March 2020.