In Syrian artist Thaer Maarouf's conceptual art project Dirty Messages, which was created to raise awareness on the plight of migrants, refugees' shoes cross borders and reach the world's powerful to remind them of the difficulties that migrants face in their journey for a better future. 12 pairs of shoes beyond borders Maarouf collected 12 pairs of shoes that had been worn by refugees. "The wearers of these shoes have all left a long, difficult and dusty path behind them, and crossed many borders on foot in order to flee from war and death, all in the hope of finding a better and safer life," said the project's website.
Nine pairs were sent to the presidents of the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland, France, Italy, Australia, Spain, Russia and Egypt. Another three pairs were sent to randomly chosen addresses in Hungary, Greece, and Lebanon. "Alongside the shoes, all the parcels contain a personal letter with a QR code linked to a video. The video is a part of the attempt to capture personal moods and feelings as well as the background which connects Maarouf himself with the theme of flight," the website said. While delivery of the package was refused in the United Kingdom, Spain responded with a letter thanking Maarouf and highlighting the country's efforts on behalf of refugees. "The old shoes, dirty from the long flight, make something intangible tangible," said the website. "They are real and immediate, as opposed to the abstract figures recording the number of people on the run".
Art to represent the destinies of refugees
Thanks to this idea, the shoes become "a symbolic representation of the personal destinies of individual refugees who were stopped at a certain point on their long journey, before they were able to reach their actual destination" the website said.Art becomes a tool for reminding people of the difficulties that migrants face in crossing borders. "The shoes completed their way easily by following their dream, without breaking any laws," the website said. "How difficult would it be for a human being?" (Some images from the Dirty Messages project. Source: dirtymessages.tumblr.com) (Video overview of project: https://vimeo.com/213532281