3D Selfies with a Purpose

Moving People Tells Refugee Stories in The Netherlands

Moving People

Exploring the refugee crisis in Europe, 3D scanning project “Moving People” focuses on peaceful harmony instead of virulent xenophobia.

moving peopleWhile your social media stream has likely been filled with upworthy stories of friendly Germans greeting refugees as they cross the border, there are more hardships in the refugee crisis than happy endings. In fact, the Netherlands announced earlier this week it would be stepping up border spot checks and security.

Dutch collective Power of Art House specializes in campaigns with a social purpose, where the staging ground is public spaces. Recently, their Moving People project has been surprising city-dwellers all over Amsterdam and The Hague.

Simply walking around the neighborhood, you might stumble upon a tiny figurine perched on a road sign, window sill, or street corner. Each figurine is made from a 3D scan of a real person with a real story. Follow the web address printed on the back of the figurine to learn about their experiences.

There are ten different subjects altogether, carefully depicted in their own clothing and natural poses. One person is reading a book. Another is cradling their baby. With a production run of 1,001 for each person, a total of 10,010 figurines have been deposited around the two cities.

These figurines are not 3D printed selfies — they’re cast in plaster and painted by hand — but it’s easy to see how the trend for 3D selfies has inspired a low-tech approach that’s an effective way to inspire action.

Moving People needs your support

The team wants to open the eyes of ordinary citizens around Amsterdam without apportioning blame or guilt. The goal is to preserve and show the humanity inside every refugee, as well as put a face, name and story to overwhelming and depersonalizing statistics.

Perhaps best of all is the team’s desire to interact with the public. They openly welcome anyone who finds a figurine to move it to a new location, so stories can be told all over the city. And using the hashtag #MovingPeople, they’re invited to share pictures to social media channels like Instagram and Twitter.

Accompanying the street art is an exhibition at the Humanity House in The Hague, running until 31 October 31st.

“Moving People” is seeking further assistance via crowdfunding. With 49 campaign days left, they have already surpassed their goal. With the surplus funds, they have pledged their work to “sociale werkplaats” (Dutch for sheltered workshops). And of course, they could always use more funding to bring new measures, designs, and surprises.

Smart, simple and genuine, this guerrilla art project gives all of us a wake-up call about the human cost of the refugee crisis. Here’s hoping the movement spreads to more cities and towns around Europe.

moving people