The Ukrainian Backpack, by Marcel Dalmau
MUME, Espace "Art and Memory"
From September, 3 at December, 4, 2022
The recent Russian attack on Ukraine has unquestionably shown that exile is very much present in Europe today. It is estimated that approximately six million Ukrainian refugees have had to hurriedly leave their country, mainly women and children. Unfortunately, it is not the only large-scale exile at present. Just consider, for example, the case of Syrian, Palestinian and Kurdish exiles, to cite the most widely known. However, for the time being, this Ukrainian exodus is the most recent and it undeniably reflects a situation that we often try to ignore. To showcase this uncomfortable reality, at the Exile Memorial Museum (MUME) we have organised the exhibition The Ukrainian Backpack on the initiative of the artist Marcel Dalmau (Les Planes d’Hostoles, 1961) and in collaboration with different exiled families.
The suitcase has often been used as a symbol of exile and it has been apparent how difficult it is for those who have to leave to choose what they consider the most basic items to take with them. It should be added that current conditions have imposed new rules. When the Russian offensive was more than probable, the Ukrainian authorities issued advice about what to take, basically as little as possible. Everything had to fit in a backpack. Here we feature the advice provided, pictures of the real content of hastily prepared backpacks, as well as the accounts of exiles that show the dramatic context that made them leave their country.