Paloma Varga Weisz
I saw then this former Orient Express station, totally run down, and heard about this background that the Orient Express train, former times, came from Calais, from France, to Folkestone, and continued its journey to London. And also that the soldiers and the war — start their journey from Folkestone. So, I felt the atmosphere at this station quite intense. And I didn’t really develop an idea in that moment. But then I came back a second time by car to really get a feeling for the distance from Germany to England, also taking the ferry, and yeah, getting a feeling for the closeness of the United Kingdom to Europe — to France.
And I went by car, and I crossed then from Calais to Folkestone. And I saw all these refugee camps near Calais — from all these people who are trying to come to England.1 And in that moment, I developed an idea, because they had these little huts all over the beach, and I went into this whole story of these people, and suddenly found out that the path that the smugglers are taking is the same route that the Orient Express is taking. So, they’re coming from Istanbul, Vienna, Paris, to London. And so, these people are mostly coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan — yeah, coming by — how I say, by trolleys to Calais.
And so, these characters were built up as portraits of all these refugees. And also, one of these heads become a portrait of my father, because I felt that there is also a link to him, as someone who was kind of also a homeless person trying to find his place. And these figures were kind of like a group surrounded by cardboard, and the whole thing was cast in bronze. So, it’d become like a hut, where the heads are coming out, but it was standing on a huge orient carpet. And the link to this orient carpet was that I felt it’s kind of an imagination that you can take a flying carpet through all these barriers, which is, of course, impossible, and also having a heavy bronze on a carpet would not work as well. You couldn’t fly.
And also that the carpet itself is something that everybody accepts here in Western culture as — yeah, from the cheapest version to the most high priced version, everybody is involved in Persian carpets. But all these people, you don’t want, or if this — people who are doing these carpets, they have their different stories.