A special exhibition by Israeli artist Orna Ben-Ami entitled “An Entire Life in a Package” opened on Tuesday at the United Nations in partnership with The Israel Project.
The exhibit, which will remain on display until March 10th, includes welded iron sculptures combined with photographs of refugees in various situations and focuses on the plight of refugees from around the world. Diplomats from around the world and senior UN officials, including Mr. Arjun Jain, Senior Policy Advisor at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), took part in a ceremony marking the opening of the exhibit.
“We are so proud to host this exhibition. As a people who spent 2,000 years living in exile, we are no strangers to the world of refugees,” said UN Ambassador Danny Danon. “We experienced firsthand the lack of security while in exile, while never losing hope for a better future. As Jews, we cannot allow ourselves to be indifferent to the plight of refugees today.”
In her exhibit, the artist hopes to represent the identity and sense of belonging of refugees. The iron she uses expresses the will to hold on to a strong identity that refugees possess, while at the same time their hopes to render these experiences into meaningful lasting monuments. By then cutting and welding the iron, Ben-Ami seeks to ‘soften’ this hardest of substances, while at the same time further strengthening the message of her works.
“I feel that as an Israeli artist I have to contribute my part by shading light on the situation of the refugees today, and pick up the awareness of the world to this human tragedy. Every piece of iron that I welded for this exhibition made me feel closer to the people that have to leave their homes and look for an unknown future elsewhere, said Mrs. Ben-Ami. “I wish that artists will get the chance to be more influential in the world, because we are not destroying, we are creating,” she added.
Josh Block, the president and CEO of The Israel Project, also addressed the exhibit opening. “For us at The Israel Project, this exhibition was an opportunity to showcase Israel’s sensitivity to the dreams represented in the upheaval of the journeys of refugees. After all, Israel is a country whose people know too well what it means to search for a haven from fear and persecution,” said Mr. Block.