In 2018 Mere Phantoms created Shadows without Borders, a mobile interactive shadow installation that travelled to refugee camps, squats and settlements in Athens and Istanbul. Mere Phantoms worked with the children and families in these communities through a series of interactive workshops and performances.
The work created collectively during this journey alongside work created by Mere Phantoms artists has now been transformed into an interactive exhibition.
The project was developed by fostering relationships with local partners in Istanbul and Athens. Maya Ersan, (born and raised in Istanbul) has been working on projects in the region for many years, this connection provided a starting point for developing the network needed for this project.
For Shadows Without Borders Mere Phantoms created a travelling shadow installation that moved from one location to the next, providing a platform for shadow play in each community it visited. The installation consisted of: a 12 x 12’ shadow projection tent; an installation of intricate paper cutouts; a set of battery-operated shadow lamps; a battery-operated sound system; and the materials for making paper cutouts. Their low-tech, compact, and rechargeable nature made these tools ideal for bringing the experience of shadow play to communities with limited access to info-structure.
During the first phase of the project in 2018, Shadows Without Boarders spent three to five days in each community. During the day participants took part in an open paper-cutting workshop. The artists provided the tools, materials, and guidance needed to create paper cutouts. In the evenings participants were invited to gather within the tent to bring these paper cutouts to life in shadow.
This project is humble in its ambitions. It does not endeavour to document or record or even solicit personal stories. Instead it offers a creative play space in which humour, sadness, joy, and creativity can be expressed. It offers a momentary pause from daily life in a temporary home. Ultimately this piece is about play. Participants were invited to pick up a shadow lamp, make a paper cutout, and immerse themselves in this ephemeral world of shadow and light.
We would like to thank our partners Khora (Athens), Project Elea (Athens), Atta Festival (Istanbul) and Al-Farah SGDD (Istanbul).
We would also like to thank Extension Concepts for the meticulous construction of the shadow tent.
Images by Leila Shifteh and Harun Yasin Tuna.
This is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.