This is the crux of our project. When we first started pondering the situation of the Olympic Athletes, called to partake in the Rio Olympics as “Refugees” without representation, we found the paradox of being stateless in the world’s biggest display of statehood, uniquely equivocal and somewhat outrageous. For the first time ever, a refugee team was supposed to compete at the Olympic Games, representing 65 million displaced people worldwide, and for the first time ever, 10 athletes would
be there with no national team to belong to, no flag to march behind and no anthem to be played for them. In this context, we - a collective of creatives- in partnership with a group of refugees, decided to do something about that. Together, we came up with the concept of The Refugee Nation: a nation reimagined to challenge geography and the notion of territories. Our nation is a borderless ideal, immersed in the core values of human rights, and above all, open, to taking in those in need anywhere in the world.
“Black and orange is a symbol of solidarity with all these brave souls that had to wear life-vests to cross the sea to look for safety in a new country. Since I had wear one I have a personal engagement with these life-vests, and these two colors.” yara
This symbolic nation was meant to pay a tribute to the refugee athletes in the Olympics, and by extension, all the refugees in the world. Together, we created a flag and an anthem, all refugees could call their own. To design the flag of this new nation, we teamed up with an artist, but not just any artist. We partnered up with Yara Said, a Syrian refugee who had to leave her own country, to find asylum in Amsterdam after graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Damascus.
The flag of a nation without borders, had to reflect the conflict between the dream of crossing over, and the obligation of staying within the lines. Said was very familiar with the struggle and the complex circumstances brought up by forced displacement, so she created a meaningful, powerful flag. The idea was inspired from the only passport so many refugees have used throughout their journey: Life-vests. The flag is a vidid orange with a single black stripe, reminiscent of movement, pain, fear and hope.
To write the anthem, we invited a very special composer. Moutaz Arian,
a Syrian refugee currently living in Istanbul. He was a music scholar
in his fourth year at the University of Damascus, when he had to flee his own country as the situation in Syria deteriorated. Since the refugee crisis is a global issue, Arian decided to create an anthem without words to resonate beyond borders. His intention was to let music, as the most commonly understood language , speak for itself: “I want to make music not just for Kurds and Arabs. I want to make music for the whole world”.
The epic hymn’s high notes and rhythm were meant to portray the volatility
of the crossing the refugees have to undertake.