de-tension puzzle

Dimensions and materials: wooden box – 20x20x10 cm, puzzle pieces made of balsa wood sheets, sizes vary, appr. 5×7 cm. The work is displayed as a box of puzzle, with a user manual in English and Hungarian.  People are able to “play” and try to fit the pieces together.

Project description:

This game’s idea presented  when searching for  information on detention centres. I came across a map showing all detention centres across Europe. By observing the map, the idea of connecting the dots (representing the different centres) and therefore creating allegorical shapes, sort of contallations, emerged. The different shapes when displayed as pieces of a puzzle actually cannot fit together and can never form a proper puzzle image. With this I propose the unsolvable notion of detention facilities, and the choicelessness of migrants, seeking refugee in Europe, usually end up in these centres awaiting their trials or deportation.

Texts on user manual: 1st page: “Let’s see where you can get to. Can you put the pieces together to discover how far you can reach into the EU? Let’s find out which detention centre you end up in. Shapes representing EU countries:”, 2nd page: “Shapes representing other countries helping you build your way:”

This work reflects on the European detention centres where many of the migrants and refugees end up in. These centres limit their movement and basic human rights. An unsolvable puzzle where the pieces are not designed to fit together.


+ Detention centres:

Closed centres, surrounded by walls, barbed wire and surveillance devices. Migrants entering these premises are deprived completely of their freedom. They cannot leave the facility in which they are held, except to go to the court or the hospital with a police escort.

Two detention situations can be distinguished:

  1. The person wants to stay in the country or to transit through it. S/he is detained for the time it takes for her or his situation to be examined by the local authorities who decide whether s/he can enter the territory or should be removed.
  2. The person is in irregular situation in a State and is awaiting removal (e.g. those who have had asylum applications refused or otherwise do not have the right to remain).

However, most of these places combine both functions (examination of the request to stay/ deportation)


(Other sources of inspiration : – A website created for a dynamic and interactive mapping of migrant detention in Europe and beyond. This site aims to record the sites, forms and conditions of migrant detention and their serious human consequences, enable access to information concerning migrant detention sites and contact with detained persons, mobilise all those who oppose migrant detention and removal measures to protect migrants’ human rights.)