Upon the dome of the Neo-Gothic Holy Cross Church in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district clinging onto the huge cross with one hand and holding a smoking flare in the other, a little boy wearing a life jacket is calling for help.
The new installation ‘Landless Stranded’ by the Spanish artist Pejac is there to make us see the uncomfortable. The distressing scene brings a reality of a refugees plight to the urban setting, where instead of a television clip, the scene is high up on the street for all to see.
Pejac works are often influential poetic commentaries on social and environmental wrongs, with past imagery just as captivating. Such as the coloured lifebuoy amid a massive tire dump, a water well floating out on the open sea and a tree piercing a children’s slide inside a forest are but a few of the many outdoor interventions that bear his signature.
‘‘The best way for me to connect to the world is through art’’, says Pejac.‘‘This new installation speaks of all the people who, even on land, feel adrift.’’
According to the United Nations, at the end of 2020, 82.4 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced as a result of violence, persecution, or human rights violations. As EU migration policies become ever harsher, pushbacks of migrants on land and at sea are becoming increasingly typical, turning the continent into a fortress.
For this project, Pejac has joined forces with Sea-Watch, the German NGO that has saved thousands of people trying to cross the Mediterranean. With DOJO Cares, the foundation of Berlin-based creative agencies whose office is inside the church and the Holy Cross Church itself, which is gladly hosting the installation in the context of its charity work in Kreuzberg aimed at helping refugees, the homeless and the poor.
Having installed binoculars opposite the church, Pejac enables viewers to take a closer look at the imperilled child. Metaphorically too, there is a distance between ‘us and those we are unfamiliar with and often fearful of.
To alleviate any uneasiness, it’s worth scanning the QR code on the binoculars, which leads straight to a webpage that features both information on the church’s new charity campaign and a link to donate to Sea-Watch. There are also Lottery tickets to purchase limited edition prints that will sell at his APNEA exhibition, and part of the proceeds raised will go to Sea-Watch. (Modersohnstraße 35-45,30 October–7 November).
Photo credit Pejac