Migrants' Dream Houses

Brave New World on tour

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Owning one’s own home is a dream shared by many. Families everywhere long to create something lasting for themselves and their children.

Houses can be much more than just a home, however. Often, they are a clear sign of the hard work, success and new social standing of their owners, who left their villages in search of work to support their families from abroad. The houses represent a modern Western lifestyle as well as a new aesthetic. Urban status symbols within the rural landscape, they attract social recognition.

This exhibition presents examples of dream houses from Romania, Serbia and Croatia, along with their economic and social background story. Proud houses built by Romanian migrant workers across three regions of northern Romania since 2000 are juxtaposed with the prestigious homes of Serbian and Croatian migrants, who have been working abroad since the 1960s.

The houses repeat, emphasise and adapt Western building styles. Modern architectural trends and regional characteristics of the host countries are clearly recognisable in the multitude of forms and colours. These structures reflect not only the fundamental social changes taking place in the countries where the migrants work, but also the ‘price’ their families pay in the divide between two worlds.

Photo: Bistrița-Năsăud, Transylvania, 2010 © Petruț Călinescu