Artistic Representations and Affective Effects of Migrant Movements

Krzysztof Wodiczko: Guests, September 26, 2009 | © Courtesy of m.ariii/Flickr.
Krzysztof Wodiczko: Guests, September 26, 2009 | © Courtesy of m.ariii/Flickr.

On November 10, 2018, Agnieszka Dauksza has published an article entitled “Affective Diffusion Between Migrants and Inhabitants. Art Based on Migrant Movement” in Open Cultural Studies.

A Blog Post by Pablo Markin.

In her article, Agnieszka Dauksza has considered the phenomenon of migration through its literary and artistic representation, such as in the works of Jarosław Mikołajewski, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Anna Konik, Margot Sputo, Ai Weiwei, and Giacomo Sferlazzo, in order to propose “a category of affective diffusion as a process that can occur not only between sentient individuals but also as a result of the material aspect of art and the contact with the viewer” (262). The author also relates this concept to the notion of “affective economy” understood as “the movement between emotions, bodies and signs that stimulates the circulation of values between individuals within a community (see Ahmed 2004a)” (263).

To accomplish this, Dauksza analyses “the general abstract idea of migrants that is based on the news, state rhetoric, common opinions, our own projections and images” (266). What emerges, as the author demonstrates, is the “need to present the materiality and emphasize the sensuality of physical contact with refugees” (271). From this point of view, encounters with refugees ineluctably involve “the tangible breaking-down of the barrier of strangeness that changes the feeling, allows affects to develop with their full ambiguity and intensity” (272).

On the basis of her detailed analyses, Dauksza argues that these artists “show the fragility of matter and highlight the many dangers that threaten the tissues of bodies and things” (272). By the same token, their artworks interpellate their viewers, while enjoining them to let go of perceptions “connected with their indifference towards refugees, whom they perceive as not living, suffering people, but virtual silhouettes shown faintly in perfect yet unreal photographs” (272).

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: Krzysztof Wodiczko: Guests, September 26, 2009 | © Courtesy of m.ariii/Flickr.

Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Artistic Representations and Affective Effects of Migrant Movements," in Open Culture, 08/02/2019,

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