UCL Urban Laboratory


Undocumented?: An Exhibition about Migration on the Edges of Europe

26 February 2024–29 February 2024, 10:00 am–6:00 pm


An immersive video installation by artist and academic Nishat Awan, tracing journeys of migration through the edges of Europe.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







UCL Urban Room


Urban Room
1 Pool Street
E20 2AF
United Kingdom

Documents play a central role in any journey but in the lives of the undocumented they take on mythical status. This lack of documents is often compensated by stories, advice and anecdotes from those who have gone before. They are crucial to navigating across what are hostile grounds and unknown lands.

Co-curated by artist and academic Prof Nishat Awan, Undocumented? explores journeys of migration as a series of situated vignettes from the edges of Europe. It documents lives caught in movement, lives that for those policing the borders of Europe would be better left undocumented, as mere statistics.

Grounded in original field research, Migrant Narratives of Citizenship: A Topological Atlas of European Belonging presents a collection of maps which follow the borders of Europe, particularly along the Black Sea.

The exhibition traces a route through the borderlands of the 'refugee crisis', narrating stories of migrant journeys and the clandestine crossing of borders. An unfinished and provisional Atlas of European Belonging visualises Europe through its margins and the spaces of transit, movement and stasis produced by those on the move.

Plan your visit

Visit Monday–Saturday, 10:00–18:00, no need to book.

Tickets are required for the following special events:

  • 30 November, 18:30–20:30: Exhibition opening
  • 14 December, 18:00-19:30: Topological Atlas Platform Launch: Join the team as they present the interactive digital platform 'Topological Atlas'. The architects, designers and researchers behind this work will discuss their methodology and processes around development of this unique web platform. They will focus on the relationship between architecture and evidence from their experiences working in archives, conducting interviews and coding materials such as fieldnotes, observations, documents, maps and photographs.
  • 22 January, 17:00–19:00: Vignettes as Way of Seeing Seminar: Nishat Awan and Kara Blackmore will present their emerging research on vignettes. In this seminar they will examine how the format of vignettes can be a useful way to understand difficult migrant stories. Thinking about the exhibition Undocumented? they discuss migration as a dynamic set of experiences in which research can only capture a glimpse into lived realities. They focus on the medium of film and the exhibition space as sites of evidence to understand the poetics of narrative as seen in vignettes.
  • 29 February 2024, 17:00-19:00: Poetry as Record – An Interactive Workshop Exploring Ethical Documenting of Migrant Stories: How can we use imaginative forms as a way of telling our own stories on our own terms? This workshop considers how different forms of evidence are created and used. Through poetry, we will share how to create one’s own verbal and textual material. We will illustrate how poetry can exist as a creative form of record keeping, telling migration stories and as research materials.

Nishat Awan

Nishat Awan is based at the UCL Urban Lab where she leads the European Research Council funded project, Topological Atlas, focusing on undocumented migration, border regimes and their visual representation. She is interested in modes of spatial representation, particularly in relation to the digital and the limits of witnessing as a form of ethical engagement with distant places.

Her book, Diasporic Agencies (Routledge, 2016) addressed the subject of how architecture and urbanism can respond to the consequences of increasing migration. In 2015 she was an Independent Social Research Foundation early career fellow working on the project Edges of Europe, exploring European belonging through migrant experience. She has also addressed alternative modes of architectural production in the co-authored book Spatial Agency (Routledge, 2011) and the co-edited book Trans-Local-Act (aaa-peprav, 2011).

About the UCL Urban Room

Located at One Pool Street, the public-facing UCL Urban Room hosts events, exhibitions, workshops and engagement with local stakeholders, professional audiences, and the wider public. Exploring the impact of industry, globalisation, regeneration and gentrification on the six Olympic Park boroughs and their people, UCL Urban Room is a partnership between UCL Urban Laboratory, The Bartlett, School for the Creative and Cultural Industries and UCL Library Services: Special Collections.

For more information email urbanroom@ucl.ac.uk.