Art is often politically engaged, particularly times of unrest and conflict such as this. But design is not known for making political statements. A painting or photograph produced in 2016 might be expected to make some comment on the plight of Syrian refugees, but not a lamp surely? Yet that is what Arán Lozano and Clara Campo of Barcelona-based Amarist Studio aim to do with Welcome Lamp. The lamp diffuser is constructed from a tangle of nº22 razor wire, the same as was used to prevent Syrian refugees from crossing the borders of Serbia and Hungary. Although this wire is 24ct gold plated and sits on a carved Carrara marble base.
Amarist Studio’s 2017 work will focus on a series of pieces reflecting on today’s international politics and socio-economic conflicts, and they intend the lamp as a controversial piece that sparks conversation about borders and the future of the western world.
Arán Lozano and Clara Campo of Amarist Studio
“When we decided to create a piece responding to the refugee crisis we started experimenting with razor wire,” says Arán, “It’s an object that it is always related to borders and division, and is the first image that refugees get from Europe.” This malleable material offered many possibilities but creating the piece, says Clara, was tough both physically and psychologically, requiring thick, cumbersome gloves. “When manipulating the razor wire to build the diffuser we experienced the cruelty of the material on our skin, conveying to us the desperation of people fleeing their homeland and choosing to become entangled in this wire in search of a better future.”
Why a lamp? Quite simply, it’s a symbolic gesture says Clara, representing hope and well-being. “The canvas of shadows projected from Welcome Lamp create a new dimension for the sculpture, it is a holistic experience where the viewer can get submerged in a sea of blades, sparking questions and generating debate,” she adds.
Welcome Lamp by Amarist Studio. Gold plated razor wire on Carrara marble base
Amarist Studio are known for their politically charged works, most notably their 2014 Too Much? Euro burning table, which literally burned Euro notes. It was, says Arán, “a provocative piece reflecting on the value of money, the economic depression and the future of the European monetary union.”
So far, so worthy, but what practical help can a lamp offer refugees? “Getting emotionally involved creating Welcome Lamp has pushed us to go beyond a punctual donation with the sale of the piece,” says Clara. Instead they have created a range of Welcome Jewellery, made with 24 carat gold plated polished razor wire. The line features pins, cufflinks, bracelets and necklaces for men and women, priced from €19.99 to €69.99 (approximately Dhs80 to Dhs273), with 100 percent of profits going to refugee charities. As for what’s next, Clara says they “have several surprises prepared for this year, including a Trump Chair.”
So stay tuned.
Welcome Lamp is a limited edition of seven pieces plus two Artist’s Proofs and a prototype. It can be acquired through The Barcelona Design Gallery at €12,500 (approximately Dhs48,800). The Welcome jewellery range is available at welcomemovement.org and ships worldwide.