Autograph ABP’s, Rivington Place gallery, Shoreditch is an alluring and inviting open gallery space currently home to GIDEON MENDEL: DZHANGAL. A striking and somewhat unnerving installation about life of refugees in Calais. The name of the exhibition alludes to a Pashto word meaning ‘This is the forest’ also meaning ‘jungle’.
After entering the exhibition through a fire door to the side of the gallery building, suddenly you’re surrounded with turmoil fuelled objects from the ‘Calais Jungle’. It is easy to feel a connection to the refugees through the possessions, and this offers a journey to empathy.
Photographer, Mendel, collected items such as: toys, playing cards, shoes and sleeping bags during trips to the jungle camp while teaching photography there. The installation completely encompasses the suffering and disruption you could imagine in the camp. The messy and unorganised nature of the curation of the exhibition mirrors the disruption in the lives of the owners of the items as well as the chaos of the camp.
I think one of the most important things this exhibition offers is the chance to think and feel for the refugees as people rather than as news stories and statistics. It humanises the ordeal and by using items we all use and own, it allows us to relate on a deeper level.
The contrast between the messiness of the items on the floor, and the curated and art directed photographs on the gallery’s white walls was extremely emotive. It drew back to themes of disruption and the disorder in the lives of the refugees compared to “normal” life.
Dzhangal | Autohraph ABP (2017) Available at: http://autograph-abp.co.uk/exhibitions/dzhangal (accessed: February 12, 2017).