Face Forward… into my home

Tabačka Kulturfabrik Gallery - Slovakia

Following its first successful presentation in Athens, Greece and its warm reception in two more Greek cities, Heraklion, Crete and Thessaloniki, the interactive art project Face Forward… into my home travels for the first time outside Greece and is hosted in Tabačka Kulturfabrik Gallery, Košice in Slovakia.

Face Forward …into my home includes storytelling workshops inspired by a selection of contemporary artworks from the collection of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST), the photo shooting of portraits, and an exhibition with photo portraits and recorded personal stories of refugees and asylum-seekers who are now living in Greece. All participants of Face Forward… into my home are benefitting from ESTIA, the Emergency Support To Integration and Accommodation programme implemented by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in collaboration with the Greek Government, local authorities and NGOs, and with funding by the European Commission.

In Košice the exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Athens with the support of the Office of Košice Self-governing Region and serves under the auspices of the President of the Slovak Republic H.E. Mr. Andrej Kiska.

The personal narratives were translated in the Slovak language in cooperation with the Department of British and American Studies of Faculty of Arts of the Pavol Jozef Šafárik University of Košice.

ESTIA means Home
Face Forward… into my home introduces the public to the faces behind the numbers and the refugee situation in Greece, and tells their stories – the family members, the woman, the man, the teenager. Getting to know these human stories, one realizes that even though they lost almost everything when they were forced to flee their homes, they still share many of the same desires and dreams that we all do. They haven’t lost their identity, their skills or their hope. They just long to resume a normal life.

The ESTIA programme helps them to realize exactly this: through accommodation in apartments and provision of monthly cash support, refugees and asylum-seekers are able to lead more secure and normal lives, regain the dignity of choice and gradually take back control of their life. At the same time, Face Forward… into my home introduces these people as residents of a country that has embraced so many cultures, religions and ideas – a diversity that is defined through social solidarity and mutual respect, so that we can all feel “at Home”.

 Face Forward… into my home was designed and implemented by EMST’s Education Department, in collaboration with UNHCR, and is funded by the European Commission, in the framework of the ESTIA programme, which provides urban accommodation and cash assistance to thousands of asylum seekers and refugees in Greece.

Face Forward… into my home consists of the following three phases:

Phase I: Storytelling Workshops
Βeneficiaries of the ESTIA programme are invited to share feelings, memories, hopes and aspirations, inspired by artworks from the EMST collection. Using these as a starting point and as a stimulus to explore contemporary social issues, including forced migration, social integration, cultural exchange and social interaction, the participants create autobiographical stories that reveal moments from the past, build personal narratives about the present, and make plans for the future.

Phase II: Photographic Portraits
Based on the narratives that unfold during the workshops, photographic portraits depict the refugees and asylum-seekers in their daily life in Athens. Accompanied by the stories, the portraits shed light on each person’s unique character. At the same time, both photographs and stories reveal the “human face” of the refugee plight and remind us of the things, emotions, feelings that connect us all – our common humanity.

Phase III: Exhibition of Photographic Portraits and Personal Narratives
The personal narratives and photographic portraits will be presented at Tabačka Kulturfabrik Gallery, in Košice, Slovakia, from 23 January to 22 February 2019. The works from the EMST collection that prompted the narratives will be also presented in digital form in the exhibition space, in addition to a short documentary video of the whole project.

About EMST
The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST) is a major contemporary art institution in Greece that from the beginning of its operation (2000) has developed a wide variety of programmes and activities addressing different audiences. The permanent home of the Museum is the former Fix brewery on Syngrou Ave., which was reconstructed to open its doors again in late 2016 with the first exhibition Urgent Conversations: Athens – Antwerp inaugurating the temporary exhibition spaces of EMST simultaneously with the series EMST in the World and attracting thousands of visitors.

From April to July 2017 EMST was the main venue of the acclaimed art exhibition documenta 14, which was organized for the first time in two cities, Athens and Kassel, and attracted global attention. From June to September 2017, the exhibition ANTIDORON. The EMST Collection occupied Fridericianum, the emblematic building of documenta in Kassel, where more than 220 works of the Museum’s collection were presented.

In parallel, EMST designs and delivers a variety of social intervention projects, such as educational programmes designed for primary and secondary students.
The strategic goal of the museum is its full operation with the installation of its permanent collection.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. UNHCR safeguards the rights and well-being of refugees and stateless people around the world. In more than six decades, the agency has helped tens of millions of people restart their lives. UNHCR is on the front lines of the world’s major humanitarian crises, including Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, and countless other emergencies.
Apart from its humanitarian assistance programmes, UNHCR is helping refugees rebuild their lives and trying to find solutions for their future. Learning languages, the recognition of their skills and knowledge and access to the labour market are valuable for easing their financial, social and cultural integration in the hosting communities.

About the EU’s actions
The European Union and its Member States are the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises. The European Commission ensures rapid and effective delivery of EU relief assistance through its two main instruments: civil protection and humanitarian aid.

Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian aid Operations department (ECHO), the European Commission helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the department provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs. For more information, please visit the European Commission’s website.

Tabačka Kulturfabrik Gallery
Tabačka Kulturfabrik
Gorkého 2, 040 01 Košice, Slovakia

Opening: Wednesday, 23rd of January 2019, at 16:00
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 12.00 – 22.00
Free entrance

National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST)
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Financed by the European Commission

Organization of the exhibition in Košice:
Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Athens
National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST)
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Košice Self-governing Region
Under the auspices of the President of the Slovak Republic H.E. Mr. Andrej Kiska

Exhibition curators / Idea-Implementation of the project:
Μarina Tsekou, EMST Education Curator
Ioannis Vastardis, Photographer