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On January 25, the artist Johanna Tordjman debuted a virtual exhibition of new works, live for experience through her website. Titled “25h01,” the series of portraits features characters who Tordjman has interviewed and captured based on a uniting theme: each person is a refugee or asylum seeker, pictured with an object or item they brought with them from their homeland.
Refugees in France from the Algerian war, Tordjman’s grandparents journeyed 25 hours in their trip from the Port of Bône to the south of France, arriving with only a small stool made of wood and straw. Based on the significance of the stool in Tordjman’s life—a single object that held the entire story of a family and its cultural heritage—and memories of her childhood surrounding the small piece of furniture, the artist became fascinated with the idea of material objects as relics of life stories.
With the significance of this stool as her starting point, Tordjman began to interview subjects who each left their home in search of a new life. Filming the subjects in documentary format interviews, included in a film within the online exhibition, Tordjman captured each of the individuals explaining one object they brought with them and the story of their journey.
Following the interviews, the artist rendered each subject in an acrylic-and-digigraphy portrait. The individuals have been pictured with their object of significance and a thumbnail clip of the home which they left, pasted into the frame. Tordjman presents a thought-provoking compilation where objects and memories allow us to look from the perspective of others through the stories of people like a man named Mamady, whose soccer jersey was the only shirt he owned on his crossing to Spain, or M’Mah, who brought with her a cloth wrap made by her grandmother,
“Through their testimonies, I want to question our collective and individual memories, and beyond, to question all these memories and life paths that are our universal family trees,” said the artist in a statement.