noisy image of a child's eyes

Project: What happened next?

In this project, art and research meet. The project combines ethnological, artistic methods with mobile-based self-documentation to express the experiences of refugees since they arrived in Sweden.

This project was concluded in December 2022.

Project information

Project manager at Linnaeus University
Chris High
Other project members
Henrik Teleman (project manager)
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University; ABF Malmö, Sweden; Sasnet, Lund University, Sweden
1 July 2020–31 Dec 2022
Peace and development studies (Department of Social Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences)
www.itelefonenfinnshelamä (in Swedish)


The exhibition Drömmar på månen (in Swedish) starts on 15 October 2022 at 2 pm at Celsiusgatan 40 in Malmö and will be presented there until 13 November 2022.

In the exhibition, artist Henrik Teleman summarizes thousands of pages of interviews, photos and films in an attempt to ”express the unexpressable”. Researchers from Linnaeus University have been engaged in the project, offering subject and methodological expertise.

More about the project

What happened next? follows up Henrik Teleman's 2016–2018 documentary art project The mobile contains the whole person. This became a platform for generating and disseminating knowledge about refugees. Based on an ethnological art process, hundreds of thousands of Swedes were able to get to know the new arrivals through a book, exhibitions, radio, newspapers and television.

In the current project, about forty of the previous participants who have now been in Sweden for 5–6 years will be interviewed about what happened to them and "in them". Art and research meet in the project and many of the participants are involved in their own documentation work, often digitally based.

The ethnological art process is an opportunity for democratic engagement. In meeting with people, the focus is shifted from the art/artist's own world, and substance, language, and dramaturgy are calibrated by the informants. The artist's understanding of the material collected enables a fictionalization based on this material. Spatial design ("frozen film") invites to a broadly engaging narrative, to immersion and reflexivity.

The refugees' experiences become universal in that the subjects they touch take shape in spatial and scenic form: loneliness, breakup, longing, love, gender, vulnerability, fear, security. When the audience recognizes themselves, the Other stops being a stranger but instead becomes myself. Her story becomes our common history.

In order to be able to create work from a documentary material, the artist must understand it as much as possible. The material collected from interviews, pictures, and films must be structured and analyzed. One hypothesis in the project is that this analysis is similar to or the same as that of academic researchers. The artistic process and the research processes are thus integrated and are each other's prerequisites in the project.

The project combines three research approaches:

  • Innovative fieldwork methods around agents and digitally based documentation tools, eg mobile-based micro documentation.
  • Artistic research on ethnological art processes and fictionalization.
  • Analysis of source data (interviews and ethnographic notes).

The project is part of the research in Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies.