Call Me Refugee

Magdalena Kovarik

A mixed media VR documentary collage about a young man that escaped from Syria – this is the narrative of a transition: the unique story of a person who became 'a refugee'.


Call Me Refugee is a mixed media VR documentary about a young man that escaped from Syria. This is the narrative of a transition – the unique story of a person who became 'a refugee'. The conversation is carried through a collage of images, videos and virtual moments. It is an artistic as well as a journalistic narrative that aims to break through people’s numbness for information and human tragedy. By telling the unique story of Salah, a twenty-five year old man from Aleppo, I hope to humanize humans and fight against the objectification of individuals affected by the current refugee crisis. Over many hours of Skype, Whatsapp and email, Salah told me his story of a long journey that carried him over seven borders, many asylums and a loss of identity. “Now we all have the same name: Refugee” he once told me. Listening to the conversation between two strangers that became friends, the audience wanders through a collage of popping up emails, personal and historic photographs, maps and 3D models. This project is the portray of a person, as well as a story about our globalized world. Where two people meet between the internet and reality.

What makes this project particularly interesting in a VR environment is the spatial possibilities that it offers. It is a dialog between two people that are far away from each other. Locating them on two different sides while keeping the viewer in the middle, this aspect of location and distance can get experienced. The space between the two of them is filled by the story with it’s pictures, videos and maps. In this virtual world emails pop up and the flat sunset on the Skype screen turns into a 360° video of a sunset behind the New York Skyline. 3D scans show the two ends of the internet: my desk and my view inside this computer, inside his world, and his desk, his perspective.