Vol. 27 No. 2 (2021)

Unpacked Cases: Migratory Aesthetics as a Mode of Participation and Agency

Published December 5, 2021
Gabriella Moise
University of Debrecen


Moise, G. “Unpacked Cases: Migratory Aesthetics As a Mode of Participation and Agency”. Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies, vol. 27, no. 2, Dec. 2021, doi:10.30608/HJEAS/2021/27/2/7.

The manifold notion of migratory aesthetics serves as the critical grounding for this analysis focusing on Mohamad Hafez’s and Ahmed Badr’s multimedia installation, UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage (2017-2020), a socially and politically committed artistic project. Migratory aesthetics as a conceptual frame can encompass artifacts reflecting upon the experience of forced migration, displacement, and uprootedness. However, the concept also proposes the engendering of a platform for the confluence of art and the political. In accordance with the theories of Mieke Bal, Miguel Á. Hernández-Navarro, and Jacques Rancière, “political” is meant to signify a space of generative conflict, an active, communal, participatory encounter between sentient bodies and artworks. UNPACKED confronts the audience on many levels: physically, by leaving them in limbo, suspended between the inside and the outside, the private and the public, safety and threat; conceptually (owing to the phenomenal, embodied experience of the viewers), by provoking a sense of dislocation and homelessness, resulting in the potential for identification with the status of being a refugee, a migrant, and an asylum seeker. UNPACKED encapsulates, both spatially and temporally, the invisible and silenced trauma of forced migration, eventually effectuating collective understanding in the constitutive political space of art. (GM)