ROTONDA DEL CENTRO INTERNACIONAL DE VIENA, NACIONES UNIDAS, AUSTRIA – 6 DE NOVIEMBRE 2017
Instalación INTEMPERIE – OUT IN THE OPEN de Raquel Lejtreger
Greetings and thanks
To the Embassy of Uruguay in Austria, Ambassador Bruno Faraone and the consul Nathalie Peter in particular, as well as all the staff of the embassy.
To Nyron Sequeira.
To the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education and Culture of Uruguay, as well as to all those who, with their support, made this work possible.
To all the team that worked with commitment and joy during these assembly days: Christoph Lingg, Ana Gilmet, Nathalie Peter and Joseph, Omri, Charcut and Kamal Kaveh.
To Martina and Anita, always.
To all of you here present.
To all those who allowed me to enter their homes, their thoughts, their lives and gave testimonies, that are part of this work.
We are here together at the same time that the United Nations Conference on Climate Change begins in Bonn with the aim of advancing the commitments derived from the Paris Agreement and many of us can ask ourselves, what does climate change relate with us?
14 million people lose their homes annually and 24 million are displaced today due to sudden disasters such as floods and cyclones, according to the press release issued by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, just less than a month ago.
Many of these people have the capacity to recover their homes, their assets, their livelihoods. Most of them cannot do this. The most affected are the poor, the excluded, from poor countries. They are the ones that occupy the most fragile environmental sites such as the almost inaccessible slopes of elevations, the cliffs or the flooded banks of the watercourses. And there they build their houses also fragile, multiplying their vulnerabilities, getting exposed.
And that’s how millions of people are left OUT IN THE OPEN.
They are impressive figures. 14 million is more than 4 times the entire population of Uruguay and in that striking crowd it is not possible to distinguish anyone. You cannot see a face, recognize a story, say a name. And sometimes saying everyone is almost like saying nobody.
Uruguay, my country, is a country with a gently rolling landscape, where for many years we lived with the memory of the floods of 1959, as a unique episode that seemed unrepeatable. The floods of ten years ago with almost 15,000 displaced people, touched the country, the solidarity of a whole town and of course, also to me.
Being left without a house is not the same as being homeless. Water not only destroys the physical environment. It also carries with it, personal assets such as family photographs, the notebook of the son in his first year of school, a letter, a legacy. It also devastates intangible assets such as work and effort.
Stripped of memory, we are OUT IN THE OPEN.
On the other hand, I would like to point out that this loss of the place implied by displacement, even when it is an agreed resettlement to safer places, makes us also question what is the territory, the home, the homeland. Which is our place? Where do we belong?
Without identity we are OUT IN THE OPEN
OUT IN THE OPEN, is a humanistic approach, to the effects of climate change as well as disasters and conflicts in general, and floods in particular, in the daily life of people based on more than 10 years of work with people affected by the floods. Those people who show up in the crowd, with their name, history, expectations, projects, dreams.
OUT IN THE OPEN gathers images, testimonies of affected people, documents, notes made in the field work, thoughts, poems and other texts related to this subject, compiled along 10 years and selected for this work.
Therefore, I invite you to visit it.
Finally, it is a great honor for me that the work is done precisely in the rotunda of this building, a space that symbolizes the effort of the countries to move forward in a coordinated way towards a better world for all people, so that one day no one else is left OUT IN THE OPEN.