The tragedies experienced by migrants plastered in our streets

For a year and a half, Mathilda, a graphic designer, traveled to the North of France to help the temporary camps in Calais. Every time she came and went, she felt the need to share” it “saw”, “heard” and “lived”. “I was so irritated by the way migrants were presented in the media, I wanted to change that by remembering, documenting and commemorating mundane but intimate discussions, to which everyone can feel connected”says Mathilda.

It’s for “rehumanizing people affected by migration crises” that she created Conversations From Calais, a street art project that became an Instagram account. Mathilda began by pasting excerpts of her conversations with people in transit through Calais in the streets of London. Once shared on Instagram, his project gained visibility and, since then, volunteers have also shared their anonymized exchanges with him.

The approximately 320 exchanges published on Instagram recount mourning, funeral journeys across the Channel and the Mediterranean, jokes that create knots in the throat and languid questions. Inspired by the volunteers working in Calais and determined to “not to be silent”the creator of the project intends “to listen to the voices that have always been marginalized, to convey human stories that are not heard and to give people solutions in order to create the change that they would like to see in this world”.

On the posters, “you” (“you”) quotes are addressed to refugees and not to passers-by who would come across them: “It’s a way of giving space to the thousands of displaced people stuck in Calais trying to reach the UK and whose voices are so often silenced.”

Mathilda sticks her posters in London, where she lives, and has worked with brands to get larger placements in public space. If Mathilda is alone in managing the account, “people paste the images all over the world in many different languages. So far, they have been pasted in more than fifty cities on five continents”.

No matter where the texts are pasted, they seem to elicit similar reactions: “Most people are shocked to discover the reality of Calais today”, notes the creator of the account. The latter hopes that the public will experience “anger, frustration and shame” and realize that“there is no alternative but to get out of this broken system which only treats certain people as human beings”. “I know not everyone will feel the same way, and some people will prefer to ignore it but at least they can’t say they didn’t know.”

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