Lourdes Germain is from Madrid but has lived in Cáceres since 1992. Of Cuban origin on her father’s side and Canadian on her mother’s, she is a clear example of miscegenation and multiculturalism. «I have lived the exile of my parents, I know what is the lack of credibility, rejection and nostalgia, my father still yearns for Cu. ba». This is one of the reasons why this artist and professor of Design at the Eulogio Blasco school has always been interested in the transit of people and the migratory movements that mean that many human beings have to live, out of obligation, in distant lands. , an issue that is more topical these days than ever due to the war in Ukraine, a war within the European continent that has already forced a quarter of its population to move.
Yesterday afternoon she presented her book ‘Ocultos’ at the Ateneo, an act in which she was accompanied by part of the protagonists who fill its pages: 17 refugees, all of them asylum seekers, most of them residents of Cáceres, who They have recounted their experiences. She was also accompanied by people from the solidarity sector in the city, on whom she has relied to weave this tapestry made of stories.
The project, which has received a grant for visual artists granted by the Junta de Extremadura, contains texts, photographs and videos. Lourdes has dedicated many years to this task, from which she comes out, she says, enriched on a human level, with the feeling that the people they have interviewed have given her a lot, they have “nurtured” her. Her experience confirms what she already intuited, that “refugees give much more to the society that welcomes them than they receive.” The “resilience” and “strength” with which they face their reality has been a lesson for Germain. “A lot of nonsense is taken away from you.”
The work collects the experience of people from Russia, Africa (Mali, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Guinea Conakry, Burundi) and Latin America (El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil) who have left their country « due to war, sexual orientation, political persecution” and also “due to hunger”, a reason for which refugee status is not granted but which is behind the great exoduses.
Germain, who has exhibited in the El Brocense art room, the Vostell Museum, the Hispano-American center in Havana or the Cervantes Institute in Lisbon, among others, has faced a different experience, in which art is put to the service of a social purpose, of “making visible, breaking down topics,” he details. The fences, the armored borders, the small boats and the specific difficulties of each nationality are some of the issues that Germain touches on, along with images that underpin all these ideas: earth, skies and water, lots of water. “Water is like a common thread, there are many experiences of small boats, the sea had to be present, it is a very impressive experience.” There are also photographs of the faces of all those people who have dared to go out.
Along with the book, he has published a kind of guide that under the name ‘Border control, privilege control’ offers information and tries to “dismantle some hoaxes about immigration and normalize”, explains this artist. “There are many difficulties that they face, it is another language, other customs, they bring a very heavy backpack that is what they have been fleeing from.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.