VCUarts Qatar exhibits innovative technologies for refugees in Greece

Rahma El-Deeb, Staff reporter

“Reporting from the Field,” an exhibition by curators Aris Papadopoulos and Maja Kinnemark, is on display at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar’s gallery. The exhibition explores the inside of an innovation lab, LATRA, in the Kara Tepe refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece. The lab allows for the asylum seekers to engage with aid organizations and designers who develop technologies and products for sustainable living.


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  • The exhibition runs until Feb. 24, from Saturday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • The studio allows more than 100 innovators to travel to Greece and find solutions that help refugees’ lives. This includes creating clothes that keep them warm, water filters that provide clean water and connectors that help shape the structure of the buildings in the camp, according to the exhibits’ display labels.

  • This is a site plan of the Kara Tepe Camp on Lesvos island, which supports 200 shelters and facilities for refugees. The camp offers STEM education courses and a product testing lab, which develops sustainable material as solution for housing, hygiene or other structural problems within the camp.

  • Infections during pregnancies are the cause of 10 percent of newborn fatalities in refugee camps, according to the exhibit. This machine creates umbilical cord clamps that decrease the possibility of sepsis, an infection caused by the presence of bacteria and toxins in the tissue of the umbilical cord.

  • These connectors are used to support the strucutral framework of both the refugees’ homes and the lab structures in the camp.

  • A second type of connector called “Better Connector” is used to attach items directly onto a shelter’s wall, such as blankets that provide privacy and shade, or a clothes line to hang items to dry.

  • 1. The LATRA innovation lab runs a program that allows island natives and refugees to interact in activities such as the threading of clothes and blankets. Women in the camp sew clothes from the standard blankets provided to all refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. These clothes were brought all the way from Lesvos for the purpose of the exhibition.

  • This display features photographs of Syrian families as they arrive on the shore of Lesvos.

  • A wall of the exhibition showcased the map of Lesvos Island, its history and the capacity of the refugee camp, which is a temporary home to more than 1,500 refugees and asylum seekers.

  • A map of Greece has been painted on the wooden floor of the exhibition to help visitors experience the heart of the camp.

  • 1. A tent, similar to the housing tents at the Kara Tepe camp, is set up outside the exhibition to demonstrate Syrian refugees’ living situations.

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