The Camp and the Journey: Aesthetic Encounters with Forced Migration

Clare Wallace




With reference to Sara Ahmed’s analysis of the stranger as figure and Mieke Bal’s term “migratory aesthetics,” this article considers some of the affective qualities and ethical challenges that emerge in recent artistic work that features forced migration. It focuses on three examples: Law of the Journey (2017), an exhibition by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, The Jungle (2017), a theatre play by Joe Robertson and Joe Murphy, and CAMPQ (2019), a collectively created immersive performance. The article examines the ways each of these works generate environments of encounter with the refugee migrant, in which the camp and the journey operate not only as thematic content, but also as affective propositions for audiences, viewers, or participants. The modes of recognition and relation these works afford or foreclose are assessed through discussion of the aesthetic strategies they use ‒ namely, installation, immersion and participation.


Migratory aesthetics; installation art; immersive performance; theatre of migration




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