Hiwa K’s video piece View from Above tells the story of a refugee from Iraq to Europe where the significance of map pictures taken from a bird’s-eye view supersedes reality. To be granted asylum, the person in the story must learn a new past for himself that better matches the criteria set for eligibility for asylum. For this he uses aerial photographs and a map.
During the past decades, many refugees have migrated from Iraq to Europe. The UN classifies the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq as a safe zone, unlike the rest of Iraq. A person seeking asylum must prove they come from the unsafe zone in order to be granted asylum. The area defined as safe is very large, and the definition does not reflect reality. For this reason, many must tell lies and claim to come from elsewhere, from an area classified as unsafe.
The piece is a multi-layered depiction of the chasm between reality and the bureaucratic eye. Many who arrive in Europe seeking asylum are viewed only through the lens of the latter.
Hiwa K (b. 1975) is an artist and musician from Kurdistan, Iraq, who currently lives in Germany.