As described in the Care & Destruction programme, “As Far As Isolation Goes uses touch, sound, and interactivity to bring audience members in contact with those faced with inhumane detention centres and a mental health system that disregard their political and emotional contexts.”
I faced a wall with headphones hung at the side and a seat facing sideways. Right next to it was a hole big enough for an adult arm to go through. I put on the headphones and started hearing haunting music. Suddenly a voice starts speaking and I’m told I need to put my arm through the hole - which is gently guided in. I listen to the voice telling me about systems and policies, about separation, isolation and loss. I feel strange, a little disoriented, and start to get lost in my own thoughts and feelings on the matter.
All the while, I feel the touch of someone who I cannot see drawing on my arm. It is a strange feeling for me and I start to concentrate on what’s going on around my arm. I find myself thinking “I wonder what is happening?”. It feels uncomfortable that my arm is being drawn on by an artist, who I am assume has lived the experiences and whose voice I am hearing through the recording in the headphones. My feeling is not unlike other feelings I have experienced when hearing the stories of migration, of loss, of struggle, of the need to be respected as a human being. This feels like it needs to be heard.
At this point I get lost in my thoughts about this particular issue and the audio is a bit of a blur. I quickly regain focus because I want to listen to and hear what’s being said. At the heart of it all is a story, a story where hope has been eradicated in places like Palestine, a story where people are literally fleeing for their lives, a story where upon reaching the so called promised land they’re treated as unwelcome guests, aliens, as not worthy of having access to opportunities. At the end, my arm is freed, and I feel relief, and passed to me is a piece of chalk to write what I like on the wall that divides us. For a fleeting moment, I feel I am the refugee and write a comment about how capitalism needs reform, as this struggle is related to the capitalistic ideals much of the world holds dear.
- Amar Hussein
Links relevant to this diagnosis:
‘The Jungle’: Putting the Refugee Crisis Centre Stage - NY Review of Books
The Jungle - National Theatre
EU Claims Migrant Crisis is Over - Quartz