In late February, Chargé d’Affaires Laura Lochman opened and hosted the temporary Art from Exile exhibit in the Bella Center. Wall by wall, piece by piece, Art from Exile featured numerous creative pieces by artists such as E. B. Itso, Hussein Mahmoodi and Samir Edo. Nine artists collaborated on the Art from Exile project, which sheds light on the complex issues of immigration, refugees, asylum and displacement. The exhibit is the embodiment of creativity reacting and reflecting upon what happens in societies. Chargé d’Affaires Lochman delivered remarks and discussed how difficult it is to grasp the challenges that are behind the art on display. Former U. S. Ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford, who was a special guest at the event, also delivered remarks, emphasizing the importance of putting a human face on the refugee crisis. Exhibition curator, Caroline Bøge also delivered remarks.
A graceful ballet performance concluded the opening of the exhibit. The Royal Ballet dancers Heather Dunn and Alexander Bozinoff performed “Where to from now” choreographed by Gregory Dean. The performance was accompanied by Olafur Arnalds’s piece “This place was a shelter”.
Welcoming remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Laura Lochman as delivered
On behalf of myself, my staff, my Danish counterparts and friends, and indeed every person who has fretted over the societal pressures or wept for the tales of individual suffering that have swept across Europe over the last several years, thank you for joining us here this evening. You are here because you care; we are here because we care.
Art has always suffered in times of great upheaval—this is understandable. When it seems that at least one—and often times more—of the four horsemen are ever present, it is easy to ask the question if now is the time to create or just to survive. I believe several of the artists gathered here with us this evening are far better poised to answer that question than we are.
I will say, however, that I agree whole-heartedly with Degas: “Art is not what you see, it is what you make others see.” And this evening we shall all see an awful lot. Art is the looking glass into the experiences of others; and no matter how gifted an orator or writer may be, some things transcend the written word. And that is why we are here—to witness the indescribable.
The art displayed here this evening tells the cumulative story of many thousands of miles travelled and untold experiences and challenges. It is humbling for us all to gather here and attempt to drink this in. Many of us may will be among the most well-informed people out there on this topic, but for the vast majority of us here, I dare say that no matter how artistically rendered—the inspiration for much of what is here will be a challenge to internalize.
What I do know unequivocally is that every person has something they can contribute to society and every person will have a time of need in their life-whether a material need, a hunger, or a need for support. We stand here on a continent that is no stranger to waves of displaced people—in a lifetime Europe has moved from being a source for the displaced and landless to a haven for them.
I also know that this evening’s event is the smallest of gestures or steps, but it is a step. It is my pleasure to be with you all this evening as a representative of the American people; let us take this step together; for in every step there is a movement.