‘We brought with us a roll of wallpaper printed with cumulus clouds and hung it on the wall. It seemed as though we had relocated to the sky itself, with the world map on the floor below us. A strip of wallpaper goes on the table and, with clouds as a foundation, people begin building: homes with many rooms, a squat and solid triangular wall punctuated ingeniously with decorative gates, a twisting tower with a garden at the top. The bricks are suspended in the air, the builders absorbed in their work.
I sat at the typewriter surrounded by a cloud of words, 300 of the most common in English, printed on little cards. A man whose love of language is evident in every word he chooses tells me that they are ‘child words’ but their monosyllables carry multiple meanings. We bring them over to the map and I am surprised by the potency of the commentary they produce. They rewrite the story of the map.
In Sudan, we put ‘first’ and ‘begin’. ‘Write’ sits, as a compromise, on the border between Iraq and Iran. On the south coast of England, ‘break’ - the break between Britain and continental Europe, the break of Brexit, the hard and dangerous crossings over the channel, the sea represented by a tiny sliver of blue space on the map.
We float temporarily free from the harshness of the logics of the camp, from the harshness of a world in which conflicts rage, borders are enforced and dominations are further and further entrenched. In our sky-blue room there was freedom to move, talk, experiment, create, both around the table and away from it, with people leaving, returning, drifting together like clouds.’
Words by Josie Carter, with Miriam Usiskin, Bobby Lloyd, Aida Silvestri and Emily Hollingsbee