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Contemporary Illustrative Responses to the European Refugee Crisis

McCannon, Desdemona and Davies, Andy ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7729-9125 (2019) Contemporary Illustrative Responses to the European Refugee Crisis. In: CONFIA 2019 Proceedings. Instituto Politécnico do Càvado e do Ave, Barcelos, Portugal, pp. 477-488. ISBN 978-989-54489-1-3

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Abstract

Abstract. This paper looks at issues of representation and audience in illustrative work that has been commissioned or self- initiated by the artist in response to instances of human migration and refugees in Britain and Europe in the last ten years, and considers the ethics and problematics of representing migration within contemporary popular image culture. Illustration reaches diverse and wide audiences, and can alter public perception, encourage empathy and raise awareness through the visual telling of stories. When taking on commissions, the illustrator is commonly assumed to stand to one side of the visual messages that they create. However, alongside commissioned work, much contemporary illustration on this subject is self- initiated and could be characterized as being more journalistic in its approach. This paper looks at the different kinds of cultural roles that an illustrator may inhabit when engaged in creating images on this subject, for example translator, transcriber, witness, confidante and activist. Projects considered include a picture book for young children, an animation made from the testimony of a young refugee, reportage illustration made while the illustrator is embedded in a refugee camp, migrant stories from the perspective of those settled in the UK, and a curated exhibition, the crowd sourced ‘Migrations’, (2016-ongoing). The paper asks what perspectives, from the fine grain of lived experience of migration and/or becoming a refugee and the larger picture from above of the economic, conflict or ecological drivers for human migration, can illustration provide? Who are these images for? Does the production of images of refugees unsettle and prompt action, or does it offer a panacea for any anxiety the audience may have for the issue, offering a vicarious sense of virtue, an armchair activism, which prompts little more than an admiration for the ‘beautiful’ images and directing the focus onto the artist that created them?

Item Type: Book Section
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Paper presented at the CONFIA International Conference on Illustration and Animation, 14th - 15th June, 2019, Viana Do Castelo, Portugal.

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Uncontrolled Keywords: illustration, migration, refugee, documentary, storytelling, ethics, empathy, others
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NC Drawing Design Illustration
P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
Divisions: Divisions (2019 onwards) > College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Arts
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Depositing User: Andy Davies
Date Deposited: 28 May 2019 10:36
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2019 10:10
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/8065

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