Refugees’ Library

An on-going project initiated by Marina Naprushkina

© Marina Naprushkina, Refugees’ Library, 2013—present

The Refugees’ Library was initiated by artist Marina Naprushkina in 2013 in Berlin and is an archive of court sketches on the topics of asylum and migration.

The artist documents the trials of refugees through illustrations and dialogues between the different actors of the trial: the plaintiff (the refugee), the lawyer, and the judge. In such a way, global conflicts and the ways of escape are shown through personal stories, but at the same time, the interaction between the authorities and the plaintiff (the refugee) outlines underlining power relations and hierarchies inherent to these asylum processes. The library’s intention is two-fold: on the one hand, it aims to spark debate about German and European asylum and migration policy by making available to a larger public the cases of refugees coming from diverse geographical, political, and social contexts. On the other hand, the project aims to provide the refugees with the information resources in order to prepare for their own cases.

The library is a collaborative project bringing together several volunteers working on the translations of the court proceedings in the languages of the refugees. Each booklet portrays court proceedings that have actually taken place (the names of the people involved have been changed).

The volumes of the Refugees’ Library can be freely re-printed and re-distributed, thus ensuring the dissemination of information. In 2015, in collaboration with members of the Neue Nachbarschaft//Moabit (New Neighborhood//Moabit) initiative and the Maxim Gorki Theater, the library organized live readings of the court minutes in a number of languages at the 2. Berliner Herbstsalon (2. Berlin Fall Salon) in order to reconstruct and share the experience of asylum hearings.


Said, Somalia / Asylum Law

Said N. is a Somalian citizen, he entered Germany in July 2011. He came to Italy on a motorboat and spent 7 months in an enclosed camp in Italy. Said entered Germany in July 2011, graduated from school there, and understands German well. The Federal Agency rejected his motion because they accused him of filing a second application in Germany after his petition in Italy was rejected.

Translated by: Leaticia Kossligk


For further volumes of the Refugees’ Library: browse the Library Map here

More information:


© Marina Naprushkina, Refugees’ Library, Readings at 2. Berliner Herbstsalon, Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin, 2015


About the artist

Marina Naprushkina (born 1981) is an artist whose work in media, including painting, video, and installation, concentrates on power structures in nation-states, often making use of non-fiction material such as propaganda issued by governmental institutions in Belarus. Since 2007, she has been running the Office for Anti-Propaganda that participates in and organizes political actions and also publishes newspapers (Self-Governing, 2011–2012). She has contributed to diverse exhibitions, conferences, and other art events, such as the Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, the 7th Berlin Biennale, FORMER WEST and the Kyiv Biennial – The School of Kyiv.

Naprushkina lives and works in Berlin, where she has been working with refugees for many years. Besides creating the Refugees’ Library, she is also one of the founders of New Neigborhood//Moabit (Neue Nachbarschaft//Moabit), a neighborhood initiative started in 2013, that has since then become one of the largest initiatives supporting refugees in Berlin. It brings together people from diverse backgrounds and situations, creating a community that welcomes everyone and makes no differences between people. In 2015, Naprushkina published a book titled New Home? How Refugees Make Us Better Neighbors (Neue Heimat? Wie Flüchtlinge uns zu besseren Nachbarn machen), in which she recounts her experiences of the mutual learning and working process shared with members of New Neighborhood. 

“Nobody takes care of these people. I want to do it. Of course, it is totally unrealistic and crazy. Of course.” (Marina Naprushkina)


A contribution to issue #1: A Weird Geography edited by Katalin Erdődi


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