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Calais, March 29-30, 2023

Strong gusts of wind created the effect of the sand hovering above the beach in Calais. When reviewing our video footage it looked like we were moving while we were in-fact standing still.

This was a metaphor for us for the shifting and disorientating migration climate on either side of the Channel. The widely condemned Illegal Migration Bill is making its way though the UK Parliament, while people remain stuck in limbo, fearful, their asylum claims unprocessed, unclear of next steps.

Meanwhile in the centre of Calais, hundreds of large rocks filling one of the former refugee living sites (recently termed ‘anti-human architecture’) are very slowly being shifted by human endeavour, creating gaps.

Calais is quieter at the moment, a few hundred people using the day centre each day. In response we shifted our table to the large day centre room next to the main doorway, catching people we might ordinarily miss. Unusually we were joined by men, women and children.

Today we layered a semi-opaque vinyl film on top of the entire tablecloth map, creating a sense of there and not there, grounded by the materials and activity on its surface.

Still photographs, slides and view masters allowed people to move into new imaginative places and changes in scale. Someone typed, “we want to cross the English Channel.”

Words by Miriam Usiskin & Bobby Lloyd.

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