Merging graphic novel with architectural design, academic research with oral storytelling,Undocumented: The Architecture of Migrant Detention is a non-linear exploration of migrant detention in Canada written and illustrated by Tings Chak. This forthcoming graphic novel is published by The Architecture Observer (Montreal/Amsterdam)
In the past six years, over 80,000 people have been jailed, without charge or trial, with no end in sight. This includes children, who are detained or are separated indefinitely from their caregivers. This is the reality of immigration detention in Canada — a reality that is violently invisibilized. Migrants are detained primarily because they are undocumented. Likewise, these sites of detention bare little trace — drawings and photos are classified; access is extremely limited. The detention centres, too, are undocumented.
This forthcoming graphic novel documents the banality and violence of the architecture in contrast to the stories of daily resistance among immigration detainees. The role of architectural design in the control and management of migrant bodies in such spaces is brought into question. Undocumented situates, spatializes, and confronts the silenced voices of those who are detained and the anonymous individuals who design spaces of confinement.
Tings Chak is a multidisciplinary artist trained in architectural design whose work draws inspiration from anti-colonial, migrant justice, prison abolition, and spatial justice struggles. She is an organizer with No One Is Illegal — Toronto and the End Immigration Detention Network. She holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Toronto, where she received the Kuwabara – Jackman Thesis Gold Medal for her work on the architecture of immigration detention that this graphic novel grew out of.