Breathing Through the Medium: Representations of Refugees in Contemporary Art



This article intends to look at the ways in which three works of art have attempted to deal with the issue of representation and mediation of the refugee crisis. Rather than delving into historical or political discourses surrounding this humanitarian crisis, this article will analyse three works of contemporary art: Fuocoammare (Gianfranco Rosi, 2016), Raft of Lampedusa (Jason deCaires Taylor, 2016) and Incoming (Richard Mosse, 2017) mostly through the spectrum of  Jill Bennett’s theory of ‘empathic vision’ and ‘transactive art'. Giorgio Agamben’s notions ‘bare life’ and the ‘Muselmann’ will also be regarded as crucial to an empathic visual engagement with art. These theories have the purpose of injecting new approaches to the idea of ‘breathing through the medium’ as a way of activating representations, and thereby maintaining the meaningfulness of representations of refugees.

Keywords: Empathic Vision, Raft of Lampedusa, Fuocoammare, Incoming, humanitarian crisis, refugees

How to Cite:

Adorni G., (2018) “Breathing Through the Medium: Representations of Refugees in Contemporary Art”, Dandelion: Postgraduate Arts Journal and Research Network 1(9). doi: