janet grau



Participatory project / staged photography, 2016–2018

Wunschbilder was a participatory project with about 30 refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as with other creative professionals. Over an extended period of time, I worked with the participating refugees using various artistic means (e.g. drawing, playing, dancing, painting, writing, storytelling, acting) to encourage them to express their hopes and wishes. 

Based on their experiences as refugees and the complicated situation of arriving in Germany, they created images that represent both what they had experienced and what they wanted to experience. These images do not document reality or truth, but rather mark a possible path. The resulting series of images, Wunschbilder, shows constructs, hypotheticals, imagined things, and thus acknowledges fiction as an important cultural technique.

Participants Mohamad Alraghban (Damascus) and Taisir Al Nakib (Mosul) directed the staging of the images. Several other project participants performed in front of the camera.

The staged Wunschbilder photographs were exhibited at the Heidelberger Kunstverein in 2018.

In 2017, we created an exhibition in the GEDOK gallery in Heidelberg – Wunschbilder Zwischenspiel – which focused on the working process. The images, performances, talks, readings and music in this ‘interlude’ conveyed the working methods in the project, as well as offering an insight into the cultural backgrounds of several of the refugees.

Project blog: wunschbilder.wordpress.com

Photos: Ella Kehrer

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