Sometimes, the most mundane artefacts hide within them the most poignant stories. What would you, for example, consider to be the value of these sunglasses? They are not some fancy brand, nor have they belonged to someone famous. Indeed, one side bar has broken off completely, so they cannot even shade your eyes from the sun. Worthless, you might say…
What then, if I told you that these sunglasses were the last thing a young Syrian woman bought, before she boarded a plane to join her husband in Denmark, after he had braved the dangerous journey out of war-torn Syria, across the Mediterranean, and north through Europe? They were the last piece of her country, her home, which she chose to bring with her. And even though they are broken, they now adorn the wall of the couple’s apartment in Denmark, reminding them of a time before. Back when they lived with their families. They have made a tough choice, gaining safety but getting loss and the ever present feeling of the absence of loved ones in the bargain.
Still, now they are here, determined to make the most of the hand that life has dealt them. For though the past few years have been bleak, the future promises brighter things. They have welcomed a baby daughter into their lives; a little girl who has never set foot on Syrian soil, and might not do so for many years. But maybe they will look at the sunglasses, and the few other things they brought with them, and tell her of Syria. Maybe they will tell her of living in Damascus before the war, of the vibrant atmosphere, the colours and smells, of family and friends, and of the history of the world’s oldest metropolis.
And so, the sunglasses will become so much more than a broken trinket.
The special exhibition After the Escape – Syrian lives on Samsø opens at Moesgaard Museum on the 29th of September. The exhibition takes you behind the headlines and explores the daily lives of three Syrian families living on the Danish island of Samsø.