The creative power of exile

Emigration and artistic modernism

Migration is a destabilising and even traumatic experience, removing human beings from the security and connection of their families and homes to new and sometimes hostile places. At a time when waves of migration invoke stories of pity, despair or nativist rage, are we losing sight of some of the unexpected benefits this unsettling process can bring to creativity and ideas? Architectural historian Robin Schuldenfrei tells a more hopeful story of the unfamiliar and what we can learn from it. 

 

In our current era of displaced people and seismic events, revisiting a moment in the middle of the past century in which so much was at stake can be instructive. From the experience of defamiliarization and exile, a productive change emerged in the bringing together of artists and designers committed to providing for a new, modern way of living through modern means. The merging of this philosophy – namely a critical belief in the future with a forward-moving drive t

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