Skip to Main Content

Exhibition Spotlight: Morgan Law on Dan Halter’s Rifugiato Mappa del Mondo (Refugee Map of the World)

January 31, 2019

Dan Halter (Zimbabwean, born 1977). Rifugiato Mappa del Mondo (Refugee Map of the World), 2016. Stitched-together new and used plastic-weave shopping bags, edition: 7 (unique) from a series of 8, 72 x 150 inches (182.9 x 381 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; By Exchange: Elisabeth H. Gates Fund, James G. Forsyth Fund, Fellows for Life Fund, George Cary Fund and Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lucien Garo, 2016 (2016:4). © 2016 Dan Halter. Image courtesy of the artist and WHATIFTHEWORLD.

As part of We the People: New Art from the Collection, the Albright-Knox asked members of the community for their thoughts on works in the exhibition. Morgan Law chose Dan Halter’s Rifugiato Mappa del Mondo (Refugee Map of the World).

Every time I look at Refugee Map of the World, it reminds me of how we refugees travel country to country. I look at Africa and I look at Asia and I look at America. I went to all these places. And I start thinking about my own journey.

I remember when we left our country [Somalia] in 1991 because of the war. We went to Syria, and there aren’t a lot of Black people in Syria. And people were always asking, “What are you doing here?” I lived in other countries in the Middle East, and it was the same thing. If you’re a Black man, the minute you leave Africa, the whole world is watching you.

Right now, if I try to visit Africa, my own country Somalia, I have to have a visa. And when I come back to the US they stop me in the airport and ask what I was doing in Somalia. If I tell them my grandfather lives there, they question me: “Do you have a picture of your grandfather? Well, your grandfather is not from here.” In America, I’m a citizen. But you have to understand, everyday I wake up as a Muslim, as a refugee, as a Black man.

When the government talks about Muslim travel bans, that’s me. When I look at this map I know now that I’m lucky. Right at this moment I have family members and friends traveling. Some of them won’t make it. Some of them will get raped and stolen from and put in prison. Jumping from country to country—I’m one of the luckiest ones, because I made it.