Over/Looked. Visual Regimes of (Forced) Migration

13 October – 12 November 2023 | Cubus Kunsthalle, Duisburg

This exhibition is based on the insight that images of (forced) migration are never merely representations, but rather products of specific contexts and intentions. Images migrate along medial, infrastructural, and global paths; they are fed into databases and archives in order to be retrieved and circulated again and again.

The analysis of visual regimes of migration bundles the perspectives of five researchers from different disciplines, including political theory, social and historical studies, empirical cultural studies, and art and visual studies. It unifies the understanding of migration as a comprehensive, multifaceted, and ubiquitous phenomenon that affects almost all areas of local and global politics and social life. Pictorial representations and the visual regimes behind them influence the way in which migration and those affected by it are perceived; these representations shape emotions and decisions, determine who and what is shown and what remains invisible. Images and practices of visualization are therefore part of a power strategy.

A central thesis of the exhibition is that images of migration are orchestrated – they develop their own narrative dynamics which can effect feelings of tolerance, solidarity, and social cohesion, or conversely, of stereotyping, exclusion, and xenophobia. The exhibition traces several avenues of production, storage, circulation, and agency in order to challenge prevalent perceptions of migration. The intention is to criticize dehumanizing visualizations of migration while also emphasizing their transformative potential. Where exactly do images of migration cross the boundaries of ethics, aesthetics, and (human) rights? How can they be effective against exclusion and racism and help shape responsible action dynamics?

The exhibition features images spanning the 20th and 21st centuries selected from throughout the varied domains of photography, painting, sculpture, installation, illustration, design objects, public art, street art, and film. Originals and reproductions, everyday objects, and fleeting testimonials are all on display. Each of the works tells its own stories and attests to the continuities as well as to the transformations that its interpretation undergoes over time.

The exhibition originated as an initiative of Nina Schneider and Christine Unrau from Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research (University of Duisburg-Essen) in cooperation with Charlotte Püttmann from the interdisciplinary Gerhard Mercator Graduate School “Cosmopolitanism, Tolerance and Public Spirit” (University of Duisburg-Essen), Joachim Baur from the the Institute for Art and Material Culture (Technical Uniersity of Dortmund) and Birgit Mersmann from the Art History Institute of the University of Bonn. Elza Czarnowski was the curatorial project manager. The exhibition is funded by the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research with funds from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and supported by the Gerhard Mercator Research Training Group, University of Duisburg-Essen.

Film Programme & Schedule

The film program for the exhibition "Over/Looked: Visual Regimes of (Forced) Migration" embarks on a journey to explore the complex and multifaceted experiences of migratory movements. 

All movies are accompanied by English subtitles.

15 October

Sahara Chronicle, 2009

cubus kunsthalle, Event Room (1st floor) - 16:00 CEST

19 October

I Flew You Stayed, 2012

cubus kunsthalle, Event Room (1st floor) - 18:00 CEST

22 October

The Story Won’t Die, 2021

cubus kunsthalle, Event Room (1st floor) - 16:00 CEST

Followed by a talk with Bahila Hijazi, a protagonist of the movie at 18:00 CEST

26 October

The Journey, 2006

cubus kunsthalle, Event Room (1st floor) - 18:00 CEST

29 October

El Mar La Mar, 2017

cubus kunsthalle, Event Room (1st floor) - 16:00 CEST

02 November

Nine Muses, 2010

cubus kunsthalle, Event Room (1st floor) - 18:00 CET

04 November

Leaving Greece, 2013

cubus kunsthalle, Event Room (1st floor) - 16:00 CET

Followed by a talk with Anna Brass, director of the movie at 17:30 CET

09 November

69 Minutes of 89 Days, 2017

cubus kunsthalle, Event Room (1st floor) - 18:00 CET

11 November

The Last Train, 2009

cubus kunsthalle, Event Room (1st floor) - 16:00 CET

19 November

Duvarlar – Mauern – Walls, 2000

cubus kunsthalle, Event Room (1st floor) - 18:00 CET

Followed by a talk with Can Candan, director of the movie at 19:30 CET

Dialogue Partners

Opening (13 October 2023)

Location Partner

Curatorial Team

Prof. Dr Joachim Baur (TU Dortmund)

Elza Czarnowski, M.A. (project management, KHK/GCR21)

Prof. Dr Birgit Mersmann (Universität Bonn)

Charlotte Püttmann, M.A. (Gerhard Mercator Graduiertenkolleg)

Dr Nina Schneider (KHK/GCR21)

Dr Christine Unrau (KHK/GCR21)