Emmaus International

Six artists travel to a jungle camp in Calais to produce an artwork with the migrants who live there on 1-5 October of this year. In this interview, the street artist MG La Bomba presents the project, which is being run in partnership with the region’s Emmaus communities, an activist movement from Calais and Emmaus International.

150929 MG la bombaHow did this idea of creating art in Calais with the migrants come about?
A movement of young activists working in the jungle camps in Calais contacted a graffiti artist friend of mine who told me about the project.  I decided to lead it. As I know Emmaus well, I contacted Emmaus Dunkirk and Emmaus Lille and gradually the project took shape.

Why bring street art to the migrants?
There will be four street artists, a photographer and a musician/video maker. We want to produce something in the jungle and if possible with the people who live there. It isn’t always easy, speaking from experience; a lot of dialogue and reassurance are required. We are going to gradually develop the project with them. We want to show them our support and bring colour and hope to their lives.  In the current circumstances, we simply have to go to the jungle camps. We all feel really bad about this issue.

Have you been aware of Emmaus for a long time?
I have been working with Emmaus for three years. It all started when I worked with some other people to repaint the premises of Emmaus Neuilly-sur-Marne. I now have a studio with six other street artists. I have wanted to repaint the communities in northern France for a while now. I said to myself that now was the time given the terrible situation of the migrants.

Is street art a form of activism?
In addition to Emmaus, I have already done graffiti art with the Samu Social (emergency outreach service for the homeless). I am heavily involved in the refugee centre in Place des Fêtes in Paris where the migrants self-manage their living accommodation. I took part in the event on 12 September at the Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration to change people’s view on migration (check out the video, in French). I am apprehensive about going to Calais. It is going to be tough, but it needs to be done.