‘Inflatable refugee’ visits Copenhagen on a mission

'Inflatable refugee' visits Copenhagen on a mission
The 'Inflatable Refugee' is scheduled to arrive in Copenhagen on Monday afternoon. Photo: Schellekens & Peleman
A project meant to symbolize the journey refugees go through to reach Europe will arrive in the Danish capital on Monday.

If you see a massive human sitting on a boat in the Copenhagen harbour on Monday, you’re not imagining things. Not have giants overtaken the Danish capital.

The strange site is instead the latest work from Belgian visual artists Schellekens & Peleman.

Entitled “Inflatable Refugee”, the 6-metre high blow-up is a “symbol of the dehumanization of the refugee and the current refugee crisis happening in the world” according to a press release.

The floating political statement will sail from Helsingør to Copenhagen aboard the Hawila, a 25.5m long refurbished wooden galeas that was built in Norway in 1935.

It is scheduled to arrive in the capital around 3pm on Monday.

In a statement provided to the artists, Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen said he welcomed the arrival of the 'Inflatable Refugee'.

“The current migration crisis in Europe is one of the most difficult questions that all cities in Europe are dealing with. I believe that art has the possibility to provoke and make us consider the dilemmas, we are currently facing, in a different perspective,” Jensen said.

The inflatable is made out of the same material as the boats used by human traffickers crossing the Mediterranean Sea as part of the artists' attempt to symbolizing the journey refugees go through in order to reach Europe. 

Following this theme, the designers created the inflatable in the image of an adult male who “gazes blankly into the distance” and who’s sheer size matches the “reactions his arrival in the Western world evoked”.

The Inflatable Refugee is meant to complement Schellekens & Peleman’s ‘Moving Stories’ project, which was conceived after the artist group “detected a (growing) gap between newcomers and natives in any place in the world”.

Everywhere the “Inflatable Refugee” goes, the artists send random locals letters written by refuges. The content of the letters are up to each writer, and the receiver is able to respond if he or she wishes.

 “Moving Stories” travels together with “Inflatable Refugee”. Photo: Schellekens and Peleman

After spending the night in Copenhagen, the “Inflatable Refugee” will set sail once again in the Nyhavn area at 10am on Tuesday and then head toward Kastrup in the early afternoon.

The 'Inflatable Refugee' can be seen sailing in Venice, Italy here: 

More information on Schellekens & Peleman's projects can be found here