'Humanizing' Statelessness through an Artistic Approach
In this article I critically examine an art-based approach to statelessness in institutional settings, to show how art can produce alternative insights on statelessness. Drawing from ethnographic observation, I show how an art-based approach tries to go beyond the predominant legalistic and political frames and representations of statelessness, but stay married to the same legal and political discourses. I found the art-based approaches observed do not subscribe to the idea that statelessness is only a legal anomaly and instead emphasise the creation of empathy for stateless individuals or groups. This humanises statelessness by showing their human vulnerability and creatively recognising their hope and agency. Regardless, artistic approaches can struggle to challenge the legalistic and political nature of the problem. It remains a question whether such approaches are appropriately promoting the views, perceptions and feelings of stateless persons themselves, as their participation in creating such art projects are minimal. As such, I argue for an ‘ethnographic turn in art practices’, which can ensure the participation of stateless people in the process of creating and demonstrating art. I believe this ‘turn’ could play a crucial role in the development of statelessness studies.