Map Critique_Shibani Jadhav_October 28th

Map Critique_Shibani Jadhav_October 28th

# Mapping # Oral History # Migration

In recent years social media like Facebook, Twitter and  Instagram have not only contributed to make the world a smaller place, by providing a platform to communicate and share everyday life with one another, but at the same time, have proven to be the fastest mode to spread and receive world news, get notifications for events from concerts to lectures to protests. I am one of the four million followers of Humans of New York (HONY) on Instagram (What started as an Instagram hobby has now transformed into a website, a book and a hashtag). In spite of my skeptical view about the initiative and its reach, I choose to follow the stories as they have the ability to portray a glimpse of moment in the time of the protagonist. Recently Brandon Stanton, the storyteller of HONY has been posting quotes and portraits of the refugees that he encountered during his travel journey to Syria. At the same time a lot of articles have been floating around on other social networking sites in relation to the migration, with pictures, maps, and videos. I often found myself jumping between the different scales of mapping the Syrian crisis. While some maps [image 1] focused on abstract travel journeys of the migrants (not tracing the means and modes of the path travelled, but just documenting the start and end points of the journey), other maps [image 2] and HONY posts focused on individual travel journeys and specific moments in the life of a migrant.

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[Image 1- left] Where Syria’s refugees are headed, according to pledges to the UN High Commission for Refugees in the summer of 2013. (CBC)

[Image 2- middle] Nour Ammar fled Deir al-Zour in Syria for Istanbul three years ago – her 2,500 mile journey to Sweden took two weeks and 13 hours (BBC)

[Image 3- right] Illustration by Olivier Kugler, tracing the path of an individual refugee from Syria to Sweden.

My search for an in-between mode of documentation that encompasses the intimate and the larger scale lead me to Olivier Kugler’s work [image 3]. Born in 1970 in Stuttgart, Germany, Olivier studied graphic design after his military service. He is currently based in London and works as a reporter for clients all over the world, including The Guardian, XXI, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Reader’s Digest, the New York Times, the New Yorker, New York Magazine, Harper’s Carnets. In 2011 Olivier won the V&A Illustration Award, for ‘A Tea In Tehran’. [image 4]


[Image 4] ‘A Tea In Tehran’ Illustrated journal published in XXI – Vingt et Un, Rollin Publications, Autumn 2010.

‘“I love to draw the people I meet and the places I visit. Last year I went traveling in Iran. In Tehran I met Massih, a truck driver, who invited me to join him on a four day journey carrying bottled water down to the south of the country … I created a 30-page illustrated journal of the time I spent with Massih.”

What interests me is that the illustrations go beyond the portraits of the people (as in the case of HONY) and capture the details of the subject’s journey. Another such illustration is Olivier’s personal ride in the Faroe Islands, which is part of the travel drawings from his journey from the Shetlands to Cuba. [image 5] The illustrations create detailed lexicons of instances in one’s journey from point A to B, allowing the reader to relate to the context of the existing situation at a particular moment in time.

tumblr_nvwde75PGL1qdw1kro1_1280[Image 5] Olivier Kugler’s personal ride in the Faroe Islands which is part of the travel drawings from his journey from the Shetlands to Cuba.

As part of my research for my project in Mumbai I would like to document the paths taken by the residents of the relocated settlements from their houses to work, and to basic civic amenities like schools and hospitals. I believe this will not only help me to track the time taken and the different modes of transportation required to commute, but it’ll also help me understand and convey the experience that one has to go through to reach the destination, perhaps at times hindered by many obstacles. Due to lack of available information at this moment I chose to prototype a different form of illustration which captures the oral histories of individuals.

In 2015 Olivier received the AOI World Illustration Award for Portraits of Syrian Refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan. [image 6 and 7]

Some of the shops in the camp are run by women… beauty parlors and one or two wedding dress rental places. I was very keen on creating drawings portraying the ladies running these shops. The women didn’t want me to do these drawings. A cultural thing… There were also some men who didn’t want to get depicted, as they were worried that they might get into trouble with the authorities if they should return to Syria.” – Olivier Kugler.


[Image 6,7] Portraits of Syrian Refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan, 2015

My prototype [image 8] Illustrates a situation in the everyday life of a particular tenant (can be applicable to other tenants in similar situation). I shall not explain my prototype as the intentions are to make it self explanatory. I will sincerely appreciate your critique for the illustration and would like to know if it helps you to understand the situation in its context. I will be making a series of such illustrations to create a story board for the tenants of this particular settlement.