South Korea has a lot of unrecognized refugees living in the country today and by the end of 2013 as many as 6,600 people had sought asylum, while only 370 were recognized as official refugees. Even though they are making part of the country, the refugees appear to be neglected due to widespread indifference. The Seoel Museum of Art in South Korea has therefore opened an exhibition on the ‘invisible people’, using 3D printing technologies.
The refugees have come from countries such as Pakistan, Myanmar and Syria, but whilst living in South Korea lots of them haven’t been recognized as official refugees, implying that chances are few for the ‘invisible people’. They are part of the country, while little seem to care of them. Cheil Worldwide therefore came up with the idea to set up and exhibition on this necessary subject. The ad agency works together with the UHNCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and Seoel Museum of Art.
For this exhibition they have used 3D printing techniques to create little figurines of the refugees. The team behind the project has spent two months taking photographs of refugees, after which the team was able to print out figurines based on the images. The figurines are all placed at the Seol Museum of Art, but at hidden places, such as widow sills, shelves and stairways. Of course there’s some symbolic content lying behing this, as the actual refugees are momentarily also ‘hidden people’ in a way that only little care about them. Visitors need to navigate through the museum to find the figurines, after which they can listen to a story told by the actual person displayed as a figurine.
“Instead of telling people about refugees in a straightforward message, we were hoping to help visitors think and understand the difficulties and needs of refugees while finding them and listening to their stories one by one,” says Song-ha Lee, a copywriter at Cheil Worldwide and co-director of the exhibition. “Having met and spoken with refugees in Korea and Niger, I was really struck by the fact that their number one wish is ‘to be heard, to be seen and to be recognized’. Not pity, not even financial support. Now I would like to ask everybody – ‘how many invisible people did you pass today?'”
Shin Seok-jin of Cheil Worldwide thinks the exhibition can also be good for the technology of 3D printing itself: “although 3D printing itself is a cool technology, the reality is that we have seen too many dark sides of it, such as copyright infringement issues or weapon manufacturing. Through this exhibition, we would like people recognize 3D printing as a good-will technology. By experiencing 3D technology and touching stories, visitors would have better understanding of refugees.”
The exhibition will run until March 2 at the Seoul Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea.
Image/ video credits: Seoel Museum of Art/ Cheil Worldwide.