Julie Reintjes is a human rights researcher and visual artist. She has a BA in Anthropology and Law and a MSc Human Rights from the London School of Economics, as well as a MLitt in Fine Art from the Glasgow School of Art. She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Greek refugee camps, where she collaborated with artist inhabitants and took part in arts workshops.

The Art of Forced Displacement: Permanent Temporariness in a Greek Refugee Camp

“This ethnographic illustration explores life in Skaramagas refugee camp through the eyes of one of its inhabitants: a young female Kurdish artist whose hopes and beliefs are kept alive through her art. The creative dimension of refugee life is often dismissed when balanced against the basic needs of shelter, food, and health care. However, art can be used as a strategy of resistance and endurance.

As the time spent living in refugee camps is often experienced and perceived as a time out of time and a place that is no place – in which survival and waiting are the only occupations – recreational, therapeutic, and professional art-making activities are fundamental. Artistic agency tests stereotypical notions of refugee passivity, especially in limbo spaces such as refugee camps.

Societies experiencing restlessness and temporality often generate meaning through what Lefebvre calls space production. Skaramagas camp is a good example of this. It has been transformed into a place of permanent temporariness: inhabitants have set up cafés, restaurants, hairdressers, and grocery shops inside the camp.”