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At the threshold of amnesia

(gif, 2017)

Commissioned by the Tunisian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2017.

Through the contributions of writers, artists, and cultural practitioners, the online platform "The Absence of Paths" critically explores the question of movement, access, migration and the future of our common humanity in the face of the largest refugee crisis since World War II.

Keep Well to The West (Leave No Trace) 

(35 mm film photographic series, Calais - Dover 2016)

In November 2016 I traveled to Calais to witness the aftermath of the destruction of the infamous “jungle” that for years hosted thousands of undocumented migrants trying to reach the UK.

The encampment has been evacuated and then rebuilt by new arrivals periodically over the years, yet every time the event is depicted by mainstream media as a new emergency.


Amongst the debris of the bulldozed site I am confronted with the inability to communicate my personal experience as a researcher and as a privileged nomad.

Take to the Sea 2010 - 2015

Long before it was named, Take to the Sea was conceived as an attempt for someone with the wrong passport to have a reason toobtain an o cial letter that would enable avisa to stay on in Cairo.

More formally, it was initiated in 2008 as anopen-ended research project concernedwith irregular migration from Egypt to Italyvia the Mediterranean Sea.

Since then it has mutated many times, and di erent minds and motivations have mi-grated to and through it to produce image, sound, and text-based work. In the process of travelling to various villages from where people migrate as well as to points of de-parture on the coast of Egypt collectingaccounts of both disillusion and desire, Take to the Sea encountered, again and again, an imagination in which the possibility of trans-formation rested entirely on arrival to the other shore. These journeys were marked bymemories that were not yet had, and some-where along the way, the project touched its own exile.

In entering, somewhat hesitantly, into the territories of art, Take to the Sea turned the tide in on itself as its members attempted to inhabit some of the very conditions theysought to consider. Preoccupied with in-stances when the sea becomes a wall, a waiting room, a passage to a prison cell, the project began working through that which might emerge from the vicinity of silence, to suggest an image for the invisible drawn out of voice. A few years later, for its rst solo show, Take to the Sea produced a sin-gle sculptural installation, titled A Roomful of Lost Memory. It was an attempt to quantify or measure the matter of time. It was the (im) possibility of retrieving a history that belongsto no one.

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© Laura Cugusi 2023

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