Migrant Boats Project, Waiting


2019, 9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5 cm), ink on Bristol paper

A residency at the Camargo Foundation near Marseille, France in 2017 allowed me to study the history and contemporary manifestation of migration across the Mediterranean from Africa and the Middle East to Europe. I began a series of drawings, still ongoing, that meditate on the experiences of migrants in overcrowded boats seeking to live in safety and share the wealth their nations have generated for their colonial rulers. The Mediterranean Sea has become a graveyard - sometimes called the ‘Trou Noir’ by one of the rescue boat operations out of Marseille. The desperate act of forced migration by sea, the combination of hope and terror the sea offers, has always resonated with me. I grew up hearing a story that made a deep impression on me, of a family member who escaped occupied Holland in 1940 on the last boat to get out - a tiny lifeboat overloaded with Jews, later rescued adrift in the North Sea.

Jenny Polak, https://www.jennypolak.com/