Royal Museums Greenwich recently acquired a series of works by Djordje Balmazovic, acquired with the help of Art Fund.
The works, known as narrative maps, depict journeys made by people who have experienced displacement. These people arrived in Serbia from a range of places, including Syria and Sri Lanka.
Balmazovic aimed to make the maps as factual as possible, so as not to dwell on the suffering experienced. Instead, the aim was to highlight the lack of humane asylum policy in Europe.
The maps were made during Balmazovic’s time working in an asylum centre in Serbia. This centre was where refugees would wait and rest after expressing their intention to claim asylum upon entering the country illegally.
Explore the details of these intricate maps below, and see the full images on our collections site.
Look at Djordje Balmazovic's Narrative Maps
"We were trying for 1 month to enter Macedonia. Police in Macedonia was arresting us and beat on knees."
This map details the journey from Syria to Serbia through Turkey, Greece and Macedonia.
This section of the map details a journey from Mitilini island to Izmir. The text reads:
"15 days in Izmir. Police was very problem."
This section of the map details a journey from Lojane into Serbia. The text reads:
"2 days of walking. 3 of us. Mashi (Syrian) Juri (Turkish) and me."
This map detail shows a boat journey from Turkey to Samos Island in Greece.
The text reads:
"50 people in the small very bad boat, after 1 hour you stop to be afraid. There is life and death. No choice. 1000 to get to the Samos Island."
Underneath this there is a description of what happened to those who didn't destroy the boat they arrived on.
"Some people didn't destroy the boat in Samos Island. Police caught them, put back in the boat, and sent to the open sea, without water, between Greece and Turkey. Let them in the middle of the sea to die."
This section of the map details journeys between different cities in Greece. It notes that it is less suspicious to have three people in the car as they make these journeys. It includes information of what happened in Polikastro, a town in Greece:
"Here we were waiting night, hidden in transport trains. Carry wood. 10 people were hidden in the train train goes without scanner."
This map depicts a journey from Sri Lanka to Serbia through Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, Turkey, Greece, Albania, and Montenegro. This section of the map includes the information that after spending 13 months in Australia:
"They were looking to bring me back to Indonesia."
This second detail from the map includes more descriptions of being turned away, as the police in Montenegro sent them back to Albania.
This section of the map depicts the journey from Malaysia to Australia, Indonesia, and on to Turkey.