The Stories We Carry – exhibition

  • 14-08-2018 until 04-11-2018

    Leaving for a new land because your homeland is no longer safe. What do you take with you when you have to flee? The Stories We Carry tells the story of twelve refugees through the bags and belongings that they brought with them. At the moment, these new arrivals are staying in various asylum-seeker centers (AZC) in the Amsterdam area. The exhibition also highlights designer Didi Aaslund. She works with refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos to make bags from the remains of boats and life jackets that wash up on the shore. The exhibition The Stories We Carry is on display at the Museum of Bags and Purses from the 14th of August to the 4th of November 2018.



    In the words of Leonie Sterenborg, curator at the Museum of Bags and Purses:
    “We interviewed twelve newcomers from different countries about their flight and their situation now. This exhibition brings their personal stories and their bags together. We show what these people have taken with them from their own land, and what these possessions and their bag mean to them.”


    Raghdaa Haj-Ali

    Raghdaa Haj-Ali was a teacher at a primary school in Aleppo before she came to the Netherlands with her family. She has been in the Netherlands since the spring. All of the bags that her family brought with them on their flight to the Netherlands were lost, taken away, or had to be left behind. She feels the loss of her family book the strongest. This was a book in which all the births of her children were recorded.


    Bullet, stone, Syria pin, traditional eye make-up, money from Syria from Helalah Alzian.


    Didi Aaslund and Floor Nagler

    In addition to the newcomers’ experiences, the exhibition tells the story of designer Didi Aaslund. Together with Floor Nagler, she gives workshops for refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos. During the workshops, they make bags from the remains of life jackets and dinghies that have been washed ashore. These bags can then be used for the rest of their journey. The project provides refugees with a project that increases their sense of self-worth. The bags can now also be bought through the organisation’s website. The proceeds from this project (titled No Mad Makers) go towards supporting good causes.



    Collaborating with Makers Unite and Stichting Ondertussen

    These stories have been developed in collaboration with Makers Unite and Stichting Ondertussen. Makers Unite has developed a social inclusion programme for newcomers to the Netherlands, which is based on joint creation of sustainable products. Working together creates a dialogue, which in turn creates a trusting relationship. Makers Unite helps newcomers to build up a network within Dutch society so that they can continue to develop their lives here.


    Stichting Ondertussen provides shared spaces. These are places where refugees and non-refugees alike can share time, talent, contacts, and knowledge. In these spaces people can create, play music, and exhibit together. Stichting Ondertussen currently has three locations in Amsterdam.


    The exhibition The Stories We Carry is on display at the Museum of Bags and Purses from the 14th of August to the 4th of November 2018. The exhibition texts will be provided in Dutch, English, and Arabic.

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