Migration

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Human migration, which encompasses diaspora, exile, immigration, and emigration, is a significant aspect of world history that has shaped the ethnic, religious, and cultural identities we know today. In recent years, large numbers of migrant workers from South and Central America and the Caribbean have traveled to the United States, while the Mediterranean Sea has seen thousands of migrants traveling from northern Africa to Europe. Many contemporary artists address the global scope of migration and its personal and political consequences: the French collective Claire Fontaine has installed a neon sign reading “Foreigners Everywhere” in various translations in numerous locations worldwide, drawing attention to the universal concern with immigration. Alfredo Jaar’s One Million Finnish Passports (1995) references the total number of citizenship applications rejected by Finland, bringing attention to the impact of stringent citizenship policies in the EU. Other important examples of migration in art include Titian’s strikingly large-scale 1514 woodblock print, The Submersion of the Pharaoh’s Army in the Red Sea, which represents a key scene in the escape of the Israelites from Egypt in the Old Testament. Jacob Lawrence’s 60-panel narrative painting series, “The Migration of the Negro” (1940–41), documents the Great Migration, in which 6 million African Americans relocated to Northern cities from the rural South between 1910 and 1970.

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