Refugees Confront the Past Through Art, at a Pop-Up Museum

“This whole migrant situation — what they call a crisis — is for me much more than an article in a newspaper or an item on television,” said Nathalie Faber, director and curator of the Temporary Museum. “It’s all about people, and when you talk to people it’s so completely different. We have learned so much from doing it about how just to talk to each other and work with each other.”

In a corner of a 4,300-square-foot exhibition space inside the former prison visitors’ center,

Mr. Mukasa stopped in front of his own painting, “The Gods of Africa,” (2017) depicting a large clownesque figure hovering over a small group of stick figures, painted in hues of green. His work is one of a half dozen that are part of the installation “APKAR (Artist Previously Known as Refugee)” from 2017, all made by former refugees and curated by the local Dutch artist Maze de Boer.

Surprised that the tour guide was also a painter, Saskia Leefsma, one of the visitors in the group, asked, “Do you have a studio now?” Mr. Mukasa admitted that no, this was the very first painting he’d made in a very long while because he had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. “As time goes on, I hope I will find a voice again, and this is just a beginning,” he said.

Photo

The Temporary Museum is housed in the former prison Bijlmerbajes in Amsterdam.

Credit
Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times

The guide continued on to the next installation in the exhibition, a work called “The Maquette of Dreams,” by the Lebanese-born artist Mounira Al Solh, a metal bed topped with a foam mattress taken from an asylum-seeker’s bedroom. Pasted onto the wall next to the bed were cards that visitors could open to read about the migrants’ dreams — and nightmares.

Mr. Mukasa sat down on the bed. “Please, have a seat,” he…

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