In our globalized world, mobility and migration have become familiar terms. At the same time, only a small proportion of us truly know what it feels like to leave a native country behind. What are recurring everyday stumbling blocks? How do you deal with stubborn bureaucracy or strong bouts of home sickness? How does it feel to have your perfectly valid qualifications rejected?

In Berlin, the migrantas collective turns these topics – and their social ramifications – into deceptively simple, yet striking works of art. Founded by artist Marula Di Coma and graphic designer Florencia Young, who both swapped Argentina for Germany in 2002, migrantas uses pictograms to convey its multi-layered and multi-cultural messages.

"We are the we"
“We are the we”, photo: migrantas

Starting with a workshop and exchange of opinions and experiences, each pictogram explores the life – and strife – of migrants, captured in drawings of their new home base. To this end, migrantas collaborates with different associations and cross-cultural initiatives, most of whose members report similar experiences. Slowly, and often over several workshops, key themes are identified and then transformed into pictograms by migrantas.

The unusual, yet deliberate artistic format underscores the collective’s main aim and message: With their simple, universal appeal and easy-to-grasp symbolism, pictograms are excellent, proven vehicles for promoting cross-cultural dialog.

"still migrants"
“Still migrants”, photo: migrantas

Each workshop process culminates in an exhibition to share the resulting motifs with the public. The latest documentation, at Berlin’s Rotes Rathaus (town hall), is on display until August 27th and showcases 250 individual illustrations as well as the 20 resulting new pictograms.

"I'm not the crisis"
“I’m not the crisis”, photo: migrantas

At the same time, the collective’s evocative signifiers are not confined to the gallery context: Three of their pictograms conquer public space via posters, postcards, and banners to draw attention to the personal perceptions and living conditions of Berlin’s migrant population – and to kindle real dialog while dispelling any remaining prejudice.

Posters in public space: August 5th – 27th
Exhibition: August 10th – 27th
Opening hours: Mon – Fri, 9am – 6pm
Free admission
Rotes Rathaus, Rathausstraße 15, D – 10178 Berlin

Text by Alexandra Schade
Header image: kallejipp/