The installation belongs to a body of work that examines how memory and the historical context of a place influence the way in which individuals and society relate to the world.
My Refugee Shoes and My Refugee Clothes is a readymade, a work of art made from manufactured objects, which consists of the teenage shoes and jacket that the artist wore in 1992 when he fled across the border from Bosnia to Croatia. The clothes are simply placed in the corner of the exhibition space and with this readymade format, Ibrahimović is able to capture the urgency of war: the work represents the moment when everyday life is brutally interrupted by a conflict, a disaster, or a crisis so violent that you have no time to pack anything except the clothes on your back. The absence of the body in the installation simultaneously shows what happens to your identity when you flee: life as you know it stops, you are stripped of your different identities – ‘teenager,’ ‘son,’ ‘Bosnian,’ ‘student,’ ‘friend’… – and reduced to one: ‘refugee.’
At a micro level, the work speaks of the fact that people remember their own past selectively, which can result in the dual forgetting of oneself and the collective history to which one belongs. At a macro level, this forgetting allows for repetition: the periodic historical recurrence of violent conflict, mass killing, forced migration, inhospitable resettlement, and xenophobic retort. For each new repetition, the last instance has been forgotten, as if the past is incapable of instructing the present. (– Sarah Lookofsky )