by Kathleen C. Stone


These are the hands of a refugee, one of multitudes whose stories are told in Leavings/Belongings, an installation at SITE Santa Fe.

The installation fills an entire room. One wall is covered by refugees' photos. From the ceiling hangs a sling stuffed with cinched balls of fabric, recreations of small bundles of possessions refugees carry. Nearby a video plays, a collage of visual images backed by a soundtrack of women's voices. They speak, practically in prose poetry, of homes they left, their harrowing journeys and the memories, uncertainties and hopes that came with them.

This still, shot from the video, feels intimate. We never see the woman's face but her hands are both distinctive and familiar, as though we are in a loved one's presence as she goes about a domestic task. Then the camera pans back and the image dissolves. The red thread morphs into a jagged line, at first suggesting a continental border then a graph line trending upward, like the world's ever-increasing flow of refugees.

["Leavings/Belongings is a durational project that gives voice to the refugee and immigrant narrative. Leavings/Belongings is a comprehensive artwork. It is community inclusive and is comprised of multiple components including sculptural installations, text, photography, video, and performance."]

[About the author: As a writer, Kathleen C. Stone is excited about creative forms of nonfiction that convey meaning behind the facts. Her work has been published in places such as Ploughshares, Arts Fuse, Los Angeles Review of Books and The Writer’s Chronicle. Currently she is at work on a collective biography of mid-twentieth century women.]