A project to better determine what exile (migration, displacement, flight, asylum) does to objects, but also what the status of the objects says about exile.

a project of  Non-lieux de l’exil/ Non places of exile programme

Call for texts.

The principle of the project is simple : choose an object image (material, literary, cinematographic, artistic, museal) and write an experience of exile in time and space.

This call for texts (1-3 pages) is open to everyone: researchers, artists, writers, caregivers, translators, students, and people from here or from there, whatever their status may be, who have experienced exile or displacement… It will only take on meaning as writings and experiences intertwine to form a corpus. Texts will be  published online. An image of the object must be incorporated into the text. They must be signed, at least with a first name. The texts will be edited for formal consistency. Their points of view reflect only those of their authors.

Displaced Objects is a project of the programme Non-places of Exile and is coordinated by Alexandra Galitzine-Loumpet. It will take place over several years beginning late 2015. Submissions of no more than 3 pages should be sent to the following address:  loumpet.galitzine@gmail.com


In May 1922, an exile named Marina Tsvetaieva leaves Moscow for Berlin, carefully describing the objects she is taking with her. In 1939, from Paris to Moscow, she writes down a list of the objects she is bringing back. These are not quite the same and it does not matter how they have become different. They are hers. Like her, they are in and of exile, and their fates are partially linked, one journey after another, through famine and disappearance. In what way might these objects be different from those along the beaches of Lampedusa, in the border camps of Mexico or Morocco, in detention centers, in the encampments at Calais or at the Porte de la Chapelle in Paris?  What do we know about their often vital importance? About the way they bear a trace? About their transformations?

The purpose of the project Displaced Objects (D.O.), paraphrasing the designation Displaced Persons (D.P.), is to collect short texts that give an account of objects singularised by one experience, that of exile.

The principle is simple and open to everyone: choose an object (material, literary, cinematographic, artistic, museal) and elaborate an experience of exile.

It is not necessarily a matter of recounting personal or family history. Objects of exile are part of our everyday lives. They are there behind every mention of “migration flows”. Recent events provide them in abundance, alternately presented as traces, imprints, vestiges, remains or waste. Soon, some of them will become objects of museums, art or literature, posing ethical or political questions as to their nature or their legal ownership. Rarely do we know what has become of their owners.

Displaced Objects thus integrate, but also distinguish themselves from, what is conventionally called migration or immigation heritage :  objects of exile can in fact be objects in exile, progressively detached from all signifying and historical context, categorised or patrimonialised differently: daily objects, familial or religious objects, in-between objects of displacement, “ours” or “others”, passed on from generation to generation or on the contrary looted, abandoned, lost, found or recreated in exile.

Restoring the biography of objects is accordingly a decentering of the subject to the object, an effective way of restoring dignity to the lived experience of the exile. The materiality of the object is in this respect both essential and inadequate: what matters is precisely what it signifies outside of any materiality, alone or associated with others, the experience to which it testifies. In this sense, the object, or its representation (visual, literary) is a non-place, and its changing fate epitomises that of its possessors.

We already knew it, objects have a (our) soul. In what ways do they incorporate an experience or heritage of exile

Alexandra Galitzine-Loumpet

(trad. Joshua Richeson)