Welcome to the PARSE Dialogues on Art and Migration.
Art and Migration
The dialogues inquire into the embodied, affective, performative, material, visual, and spatial politics of cross-border human mobilities, through arts/design as well as other disciplines and practices. It concerns all the actors involved in these mobilities: the remarkable proliferation over recent years of heterogeneous human migration formations, including labour migrants and people seeking asylum, the border enforcement infrastructures that arise in response to these mobilities, as well as how these infrastructures incorporate market-based/migration industry actors.
The dialogues will interrogate these complex alliances, antagonisms, and complicities, analysing or interpreting conditions where (nation-)states’ official infrastructures for border control coexist with migration industry infrastructures for border-crossing and market-based enterprises for border enforcement. These include border control through proliferating physical barricades, militarised policing, multilateral border cooperation, detention camps, deportation dragnets, and new strategies of surveillance; both formal and informal migration industry infrastructures (e.g. the outsourcing of migration visa processing, labour migrant recruitment agencies, remittance services, the rise of transit spaces along migration corridors, forged passport markets, migrant smuggling, amongst others); and private security contractors for offshore detention centres.
Among many other conceivable topics, the dialogues will engage with such questions as: – How are lived experiences of these complex entanglements understood by differently positioned people as expressed in arts/design, activism, migration studies and other disciplines?
– How do people counteract, subvert, circumvent, resist, take charge of the everyday practices of these entangled bordering infrastructures?
– How can artists, academics, activist networks, and other civil society groups work together to challenge new forms of bordering in ways that are socially and intellectually relevant?
The dialogues are in collaboration with the Centre on Global Migration, and are led by:
Erling Björgvinsson, Professor of Design, HDK/Academy of Design and Crafts, University of Gothenburg.
Nicholas De Genova, Scholar of migration, borders, citizenship, race and labour, Professor and Chair of the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies, University of Houston.
Mahmoud Keshavarz, Design scholar and post-doctoral fellow at the Engaging Vulnerability Research Program, Uppsala University.
Tintin Wulia, Artist and post-doctoral fellow at HDK/Academy of Design and Crafts and School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg.
These Dialogues are part of the research arc on Art and Migration.
Art and Migration Part 3:
29 April 2019, Baulan, HDK
Speaker abstracts and biographies:
Kitso Lynn Lelliott
In this presentation I will be sharing some considerations that emerged through my creative practice which has led my research into histories of negation and the eliding of peoples humanity. Through a process of making (art) work I have been thinking through historic traversing of geographies as it relates to understanding the diminishing of the humanity of othered people. I have been interested in the histories of transit across geographies and the power and violence that characterised the encounters engendered by these movements as a way to sketch out the epistemological dimensions of this knot of entanglements. I interrogate the link between Coloniality of knowledge and Coloniality of Being in my engagement with the production of an ontological order shaped through the violence of ‘epistemicide’.
I consider epistemological violence, erasure of knowledge systems and the othering of the bodies that carry them as integral to the development of racial hierarchisation that began taking form during the mass migrations and trafficking over waters of the Atlantic during the formative episode that shaped the modern age. I grapple with the historic establishment of racialised global capital predicated on the epistemological violence that erased peoples knowledges, humanity and being through what Maldonado-Torres (2007: 240-270) terms “racist/imperial manichean misanthropic skepticism”. I use the idea of elision with reference to enunciations and knowledges produced as marginal through processes of disavowing the legitimacy, value or presence of ways of knowing and being that are ‘othered’ as they are different from hegemonic norms that emerged in the ‘Global North’. Elision, however, suggests that the subsumed is always (and regardless of its omission present) between and a part of that which is spoken, written and recognised. I use the language of the spectral to allude to a sense of simultaneous absence and presence that describes presence beyond the parameters of the real as it is constituted by the episteme of imperial Western knowledge.
I work with migratory histories in my creative practice to think through the repercussions of these entanglements for othered bodies in transit and just ‘being’ in multiple geographies today. I consider these formative movements of people in their relation to the contemporary socio-political realities that emerged from them and contest the violence of the erasure linked to these histories by intervening in those narratives our contemporary is predicated on. My research is informed by the theoretical and political possibilities of the de-colonial turn and shift in the geographies of reason. As such I do the work through an embodied deep memory accessed through an experiential encounter with a contemporary world shaped through those histories. I rely multiple forms of recollection, on memories, traces and ancestralities alongside histories and archive, to re-member the elided.
Bio: Kitso Lynn Lelliott received her PhD from Wits University for her work that emerges across fine arts, cinematic and theoretical practices. She is preoccupied with enunciations from spaces beyond epistemic power and the crisis such epistemically disobedient articulations cause to hegemony. Her current work and doctorate interrogate the production of the ‘real’ as it is shaped through contesting epistemes, their narratives and the shape these took over the waters of the Atlantic during the formative episode that shaped the modern age. Her video and installation work are an enactment of enunciating from elision and between historically subjugated subjectivities. The work privileges South-South relations that, while functioning in relation to, are imaginatively and epistemologically unmediated by the Global North. Her work has shown internationally in gallery and museum shows and she is alumna of the Berlinale Talents in Durban as well as Berlin. She was one of the Mail & Guardian’s leading 200 young South Africans and was laureate of the French Institute 2015 Visas pour la création grant. She exhibited in Bamako Encounters 2015, ’Seven Hills’ Kampala Biennale 2016, the Casablanca Biennale 2016 and the 2nd Changjiang International Photography and Video Biennale in 2017. She was the 2017 laureate of the University of Bayreuth’s Iwalewahaus art prize and she was a featured guest artist at The Flaherty Seminar 2018. In 2019 she will take up a Mellon postdoctoral Fellowship with the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape as well as be an artists in residence with the Cidage Cité internationale des arts in Paris.
The intricate question of victimization is a recurring theme in Aleksander Motturi’s works. In his latest novel Onåbara (2017) a Syrian refugee tries to reach out to a Swedish writer hoping his own story on the glamorous gay life in the Middle East will be portrayed in a novel – a promise that never is fulfilled as the fictive—as opposed to auto-fictive—fiction writer is getting more obsessed with explicit traumatic aspects of the refugee crisis. Departing from a critique of contemporary trauma fetishism Aleksander Motturi describes the conditions of writing on topics where first-hand experience is lacking.
What is it in writing we are not able to do when we are writing? Certainly,we are writing. We are writing even though we know it is not possible. And when it happens, we do not know how. Things fall in their place. We do not know what it is (and why it appears in writing).
Bio: Aleksander Motturi (b. 1970) is a Swedish writer and artistic director of Clandestino Institute where independent critical, educational and artistic programs such as Victims & Martyrs (curated for Göteborgs Konsthall), Creative Writing for Newcomers (led by Hassan Blasim in Arabic), The Right to Narrate (in relation to many Swedish writer’s boycott of Gothenburg Book Faire 2017), The Fire Next Time (a multidisciplinary program inspired by James Baldwin’s essay) have been presented. After finishing a doctoral thesis in philosophy on Wittgenstein’s remarks on James G Frazer (Filosofi vid mörkrets hjärta– om Wittgenstein, Frazer och vildarna) he has written several novels (Diabetikern, Svindlarprästen, Broder, Onåbara), essays (Etnotism) and plays (Förvaret, Pappersgudar). He has also directed Thaumazein, an essay film based on an interview with the Ugandan-Sudanese refugee Peter Ekwiri who he first met in James Fort Prison in Accra, Ghana, 2003. The encounter with Peter Ekwiri—who had been dumped in a foreign country in Africa by Swedish migration authorities—gave birth to theClandestino Festival. However, in Thaumazeinthe refugee does not merely appear as a flagrant victim of European migration politics but also as a thinker dealing in wonder with the universal questions in Paul Gauguin’s famous painting: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?
The politics of migrant dispersal. Towards an archive of Europe’s migrant spaces.
This presentation focuses on the politics of migrant dispersal that has been enforced in Europe for regaining control over ‘unruly’ migrants’ presence and movements. It shows that dispersal is used by state authorities as a spatial strategy of governmentality and that far from being a new policy, it has a quite longstanding colonial legacy. Strategies of migrant dispersal are today enacted by state authorities, in collaboration with humanitarian actors, for troubling migrants’ presence and autonomous movements, as well as for disrupting and dividing temporary migrant collective formations. First, it retraces a colonial genealogy of dispersal, as a political technology used for disciplining unruly populations. Then, it analyses how dispersal strategies have been put into place in France (Calais and Paris) and in Italy (Ventimiglia) not only by scattering migrants across space but also by dismantling migrant spaces of life (‘lieux de vie’). It moves on demonstrating that the politics of dispersal is mainly enforced for preventing the consolidation of migrant multiplicities, criminalising them as ‘migrant mobs’ and spatially dividing them. However, mapping and studying dispersal is, by design, methodologically and theoretically challenging. The final part of the presentation centres on a collective digital mapping project, called “An archive of Europe’s migrant spaces”, that represents the spaces of control and migrant struggles which have multiplied over the last few years. Although these spaces are ephemeral and not-visible on the geopolitical map, they have contributed to shape the European space and the political memory of struggles.
Bio: Martina Tazzioli is Lecturer in Political Geography at Swansea University. She is the author of Spaces of Governmentality. Autonomous Migration and the Arab Uprisings. (2015), co-author with Glenda Garelli of Tunisia as a Revolutionised Space of Migration (2016), and she is finalising her new book, The Making of Migration. She is co-editor of Foucault and the History of our Present (2015) and Foucault and the Making of Subjects (2016). She is co-founder of the journal Materialifoucaultiani and member of Radical Philosophy editorial board and Foucault Studies.
The Secretization of Migration
This presentation stems from a book project called The Production of Secrecy. It will examine the contribution that art and design can make towards understanding of a rather weakly researched theme: the practices, functions and aesthetics of secrecy within the realm of migration control. While media and scholarly attention on the ‘clandestinity’ of migrants is rife, far less is said about the state’s uses of secrecy to control migration. I concentrate on a very specific area: the deportation of non-citizens in Europe. Here a charter flight system has been created to better insulate from the public (and the passenger’s) eye the activity of forcibly removing people from the territory. As case material I will focus on a short video called Seamless Transitions(2015). Made by James Bridle, it uses CGI to imagineer a journey through some of the sites and places which underpin the deportation of non-citizens on charter planes. These sites include a detention centre and an airport departure lounge. They are depicted as empty, dis-inhabited, and ghostly. I will make two arguments about Seamless Transitions. First, it builds on recent moves within critical photography away from a focus on ‘face’ to a concern with ‘space’ (Beckmann), and explores the possibilities which space offers for critical thought about inhumane practices. Second, it performs deportation as a secretive activity by bringing to bear a set of procedures (eg, reconstruction of scenes) and techniques (eg, CGI) which attest through their presence and their materiality to the impossibility of direct observation of deportation by a public. Seamless Transitionsshows how art and design can aid in the formation of new objects of thought and critical practice. In this case it enables us to speak of the secretization of migration.
Bio: William Walters is a Professor of Political Sociology in the Departments of Political Science and Sociology & Anthropology at Carleton University, Canada. His main research interests are secrecy and security, borders and migration, and mobility and politics. He is completing a book called The Production of Secrecy (Routledge, forthcoming). With Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani he is editing Viapolitics: Borders, Migration, and the Power of Locomotion (Duke UP, forthcoming). Previous publications include Unemployment and Government: Genealogies of the Social (2000), Governing Europe (2005), Governmentality: Critical Encounters (2012), and the co-edited collection, Global Governmentality (2004). He co-edits the book series Mobility & Politics for Palgrave Macmillan. He is the currently the lead investigator on The Air Deportation Project, a multi-country inquiry into the aerial geographies of forced removal and expulsion in and from Europe (funded by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, 2017-22).
Art and Migration Part 2:
24 January 2019, Baulan, HDK
Speaker biographies and abstracts:
(speaking via video link)
Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish Iranian writer, journalist and human rights defender. He was born on 23 July 1983 in Ilam city in Kurdistan west of Iran. Behrouz left Iran in May 2013 because of his work. He had been writing for ´Warya´ – a magazine protecting Kurdish culture and language – when the offices were raided by the Iranian government and 10 of his colleagues were arrested. He found his way to Indonesia where he lived for four months before twice trying to reach Australia by boat. On the first attempt the boat sank; Behrouz was rescued but then arrested by Indonesian authorities and sent to prison. After escaping from prison he tried again to reach Australia but the boat was lost at sea for a week and then intercepted by a British vessel and delivered to the Australian Navy. He was exiled by the Australian government by force to Manus Island, a small province in Papua New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean. This is part of Australia´s so-called ´Pacific Solution´ that sends asylum seekers who arrive by boat to mandatory and indefinite detention offshore on remote Pacific islands. Behrouz is still in detention in Manus after nearly four years. His journey to Australia has been documented in Lukas Schrank´s animated short film ´Nowhere Line: Voices from Manus island´ (2015) which was based on a phone interview with Behrouz. Behrouz has continued to work as a journalist inside the Manus prison, often being the only source of information about conditions there as outside journalists have been banned. He has sent information and photograhs to media agencies around the world and published many articles in major Australian newspapers and journals, all via social media and on a mobile phone smuggled into the detention centre. He has worked with the BBC on a television documentary and an Iranian theatre group on a new production, both about detention in Manus, and collaborated with PNG lawyer Ben Lomai seeking the release of nearly 800 fellow detainees. He is a respected writer, having published a number of poems about Manus in Australia. He has interviewed detainees for a book by freelance journalist Michael Green that will be released in early 2017, and his own novel about his experiences in Manus is also due for release next year. Behrouz´s work inside Manus prison has come at personal cost; along with other detainees he has been punished by 8 days imprisonment in the local jail and two periods of solitary confinement in the ´Chauka´ unit within the detention centre. During his first two years in detention he used a fake name, but began using his real name when PEN International, Reporters Without Borders and other human rights organisations began a campaign for his release. PEN Melbourne his since given him honorary membership. Behrouz was recently awarded the Social Justice Award at the Diaspora Symposium at Sydney´s NSW Parliament House.
Arash Kamali Sarvestani
Arash Kamali Sarvestani is an Iranian Filmmaker and Video Artist. Arash was born in Tehran, Iran on 1981. He has studied Cinema in Art University of Tehran. In 2009 he moved to the Netherlande to study Video Art in Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. He has graduated on 2013 and he is living in The Netherlands since then. In February 2015 he has participated in Abbas Kiarostami’s workshop in Barcelona. Besides close observation of Kiarostami’s style of film making, this event was a unique chance to know about the late artist’s character and his views about life and art. Arash made the movie ” Title of essay: The sea” In Abbas Kiarostami’s workshop which has been shown in a number of festivals. The workshop coincided with the huge wave of refugees. Arash came up with the idea of making a film from inside a refugee camp. He was curious to know if it is possible to make a movie about refugees using only mobile phone cameras inside a camp that looks more like a prison. After two years of investigation about refugees kept by Australian government in Manus and Nauru camps Arash eventually found Behrooz Boochani who was (and still is) detained in Manus camp. Arash shared the idea with Behrooz. The first feature movie of Arash “Chauka, Please tell us the time” is a result of their cooperation.
Using modern technology to break the isolation of imprisoned migrants
In the course of human history, we have always migrated in search for a better life. In our world nowadays, it is a big topic used by politicians to install fear, used by people in our society as an outlet for their anger. As an artist and immigrant, I – Arash – was thinking about this topic for a long time. I wanted to contribute to the discussion in a neutral way. I thought of how I could use the new technology to find a refugee who is detained, to imagine his world and his pain. I found Behrouz. We used the new media to transfer our ideas, our images, and our stories to each other just via voice messages. How can one come to an effective way of transferring the emotions, the images, and the situation lived by one person in a place so far away from the observer using only channels of digital communication?
CAMP & Trampoline House
Artistic and Curatorial Responses to the Refugee Crisis
The world is currently witnessing an unprecedented wave of mass migration, with nearly 60 million people being displaced from their homes because of war or persecution, and an even higher number migrating from poverty and climate change. In 2015, this wave hit Europe, and more than one million refugees and irregular migrants crossed into Europe, cutting open the continent’s borders and creating division amongst its politicians and populations over how to deal with the influx. Arguing that newcomers will strain welfare systems, threaten security, and undermine the quality of life, most European governments have re-imposed border control and stricter asylum and deportation policies, limiting the number of safe and legal routes to Europe and resulting in thousands of refugees and migrants dying each year while attempting to make unauthorized border crossings.
In their talk, the Danish curatorial collective, Kuratorisk Aktion (Frederikke Hansen and Tone Olaf Nielsen), will introduce two self-organized institutions in Copenhagen that are trying to respond artistically and curatorially to the political neglect to come up with sustainable responses to the challenges of displacement and migration:
Trampoline House is an independent community center in Copenhagen that provides refugees and asylum seekers in Denmark with a place of support, community, and purpose. Four days a week, the house offers internships and job training, classes and activities, legal and medical counseling to refugees and asylum seekers, with the aim of breaking the social isolation and sense of powerlessness that many refugees and asylum seekers experience in the Danish asylum system. Trampoline House brings together asylum seekers and Danish citizens, refugees and other residents of Denmark, united by a desire to improve the conditions for asylum seekers and refugees. The house was formed in 2009–2010 by artists Morten Goll and Joachim Hamou and curator Tone Olaf Nielsen in collaboration with a large group of asylum seekers, art students, activists, and professionals in reaction to the way in which the Danish state treats asylum seekers and refugees. ((trampolinehouse.dk)
CAMP is an art center in Copenhagen’s northwest district that exhibits professional contemporary art about migration and the questions this phenomena gives rise to today. The center opened in 2015 and has gained international recognition for breaking new ground in exhibiting and communicating art that makes the human and societal challenges posed by migration present and relatable. The directors of CAMP, Frederikke Hansen and Tone Olaf Nielsen, have succeeded in establishing a thematically focused art center within the refugee community center Trampoline House with such commitment that CAMP has attracted some of the most acclaimed contemporary artists. That is also why the center has developed a loyal audience of both local Danish art audiences and refugees, who meet in an open dialog about art and migration. CAMP is the only art center in Europe with a continuous artistic focus on migration and has been awarded several prices and acknowledgements. (campcph.org)
In this presentation, I will briefly trace the successive strategies developed by the Forensic Oceanography project we have led since 2011 to document and contest the conditions leading to large-scale deaths of migrants at sea. I will first describe the aesthetic regime within and against which the project sought to position itself, and the project’s successive tactics. In particular, I outline the shift in emphasis from the documentation of specific practices of actors at sea leading to cases of deaths (such as the “Left-to-die Boat”), to the reconstruction of the lethal effects of state policies (such as the ending of the Mare Nostrum operation). I will then describe the work we have been conducting over the last two years in response to the policy – which we call “Mare Clausum” – led by Italy in the aim of sealing off the Mediterranean frontier: criminalizing solidarity and outsourcing border control to Libya. I will conclude by sharing some of the challenges we face in the current context of roll-back of the border regime, racialisation and de-humanisation. How can we brake the normalization of death in a context of increasingly authoritarian right-wing regimes that seem to no longer shy away from the violence and violations they perpetrate onto migrants? When focusing on the violence of borders, how can we not in turn contribute to the spectacle or borders and occlude the multiple forms of violence that occur before and after the border?
Sandro Mezzadra teaches political theory at the University of Bologna and is adjunct research fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society of Western Sydney University. He has been visiting professor and research fellow in several places, including the New School for Social Research (New York), Humboldt Universität (Berlin), Duke University, Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme (Paris), University of Ljubljana, FLACSO Ecuador, and UNSAM (Buenos Aires).
In the last decade his work has particularly centered on the relations between globalization, migration and political processes, on contemporary capitalism as well as on postcolonial theory and criticism. He is an active participant in the ‘post-workerist’ debates and one of the founders of the website Euronomade (www.euronomade.info).
Among his books: Diritto di fuga. Migrazioni, cittadinanza, globalizzazione (“The right to escape: Migration, citizenship, globalization”, ombre corte, 2006), La condizione postcoloniale. Storia e politica nel presente globale (“The postcolonial condition: History and politics in the global present”, ombre corte, 2008) and Nei cantieri marxiani. Il soggetto e la sua produzione (“In the Marxian Workshops. The Subject and its Production”, Manifestolibri, 2014, forthcoming in English from Rowman & Littlefield). With Brett Neilson he is the author of Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor (Duke University Press, 2013). Sandro’s and Brett’s new book, The Politics of Operations. Excavating Contemporary Capitalism will come out in January 2019 from Duke University Press.
Within and agains the shifting configurations of the “humanitarian reason”
We are confronting today in many global borderscapes (including the US/Mexico borderlands and the Mediterranean sea) a criminalization of humanitarian intervention in support of people in transit. This raises important questions with respect to the critique of the governmental turn of the “humanitarian reason” articulated in recent years by critical border and migration scholars (including myself). In my talk I will discuss these questions against the background of a “Non Governmental Action” I am involved in – Mediterranea.
Alison Mountz is geography professor and Canada Research Chair in Global Migration at the Balsillie School of International Affairs at Laurier University. Her work explores how people cross borders and access migration and asylum policies. Mountz’s recent scholarship contends with detention and asylum-seeking on islands and with US war resister migration to Canada, asking what kinds of safe haven people seek, find, and forge. Mountz’s monograph, Seeking Asylum: Human Smuggling and Bureaucracy at the Border (Minnesota), was awarded the Meridian Book Prize from the Association of American Geographers. She recently published Boats, Borders, and Bases: Race, the Cold War, and the Rise of Migration Detention in the United States (California, with Jenna Loyd). Mountz directs Laurier’s International Migration Research Centre, edits the journal Politics & Space, and was the 2015-2016 Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies at Harvard University.
The art of US war resister histories in Canada
During the US led wars in Vietnam and – more recently – in Iraq and Afghanistan, US citizen soldiers who identified as draft evaders and war resisters traveled to Canada in search of safe haven. Whereas the earlier generation found refuge and legal status in Canada, the more recent generation did not find safe haven (for the most part, and with important exceptions). This talk is based on recent research that took as it’s starting point a comparative lens to understand these two generations: their migrations, border crossings, and distinct outcomes in Canada. Its main methods involved the collection of oral histories and archival work. The talk traces the evolution and mobilization of this research program into various forms of art designed to engage publics in shared, cross-border histories of war and migration: a film, a visual show, and an archive. None of the three forms was envisioned at the outset of the research. Rather, each has emerged from research collaborations and with the drive to mobilize history to engage larger, broader publics in the project of remembering and engaging these histories. Collaborators involved in their design share the desire to remember the past in order to understand the present and prepare for future generations of war resisters in Canada.
Nora El Qadim
From “border spectacle” to border voyeurism? (Un)ethical engagements with migration and borders
The engagement of artists with politics and/or with categories of people considered “vulnerable” is not new. This has also been the case with social scientists. They have even collaborated on some projects related to migration and borders. In parallel, researchers have discussed a “border spectacle” (De Genova 2002), i.e. the border as a site or theatre for staging the spectacle of enforcement, making visible the policies and laws that produce the “illegality” of some people. What does it mean then, to engage with this spectacle, by observing or documenting it, or through different types of representation? What does it mean to engage in particular with those directly bearing the cost of this “spectacle”? What does engagement mean when it is the source of funding and careers for artists and social scientists alike? How can we locate the thin line between engagement and voyeurism?
The purpose of this paper will be to raise questions about 1) whether artists should question their ethics when engaging with migration and borders; 2) what could be the basis for an ethical engagement. Through looking at the conditions of possibility of a non-voyeuristic artistic practice dealing with migration, it will also interrogate practices of research in this field, and discuss similarities between both. Finally, it will interrogate the situated moral and economic background to these practices, and propose tentative guidelines for artistic and research practices in this field.
Art and Migration Part 1:
19 October 2018, Glashuset, Valand Academy
Speaker biographies and abstracts:
Elyas Alavi is a multi-disciplinary visual artist based in Adelaide, South Australia. He is primarily working in the form of painting, installation, performance art and recently video art. Alavi was born in Daikundi province, Afghanistan, and moved to Iran as a child, following the intensification of war in his homeland and in late 2007 he moved to Australia as refugee at risk.
Elyas Alavi graduated from a Masters by Research (Visual Arts) in 2015 and a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) in 2012 at the University of South Australia and has exhibited nationally and internationally including Mohsen Gallery (Tehran), UTS Art (Sydney), Jugglers Art Space (Brisbane), IFA Gallery (Kabul), St Heliers Gallery (Melbourne), Nexus Arts, CACSA Project Space and Fontanelle Gallery (Adelaide).
Alavi also is best known as an internationally renowned poet. He published 3 poetry books in Iran and Afghanistan. First poetry book “I’m a daydreamer wolf” published in 2008 in Tehran (5th edition in 2016), followed by “Some wounds” in 2012 in Kabul and “Hodood” in 2015 in Tehran.
Alavi visits many issues in his works, but mainly memory, migration, displacement, exile, gender issues, separation and the human nature. The main part of his work as an artist reflects upon his Hazara background (a marginalised ethnic group originally from Afghanistan) as he uses his particular experiences and contemplations as an epistemological model for the dislocation of peoples. This auto ethnographic approach offers a representative perspective for other displaced people and contributes to a deepening knowledge of the refugee and migration experience.
Alavi regularly runs art and poetry workshops in community centres and schools in Adelaide.For additional information: www.elyasalavi.com
“The Uprooted Tree” : Whether in Afghanistan or elsewhere, the life of an Hazara person is often clouded by a sense of danger and vulnerability. Many have fled Afghanistan or countries such as Iran and Pakistan because of direct punitive discrimination based on their ethnicity and most often, if not from their journey to safety, are themselves suffering from trauma, loss and alienation as a result of such experiences. Which begs the question: beyond the headlines, how is it possible to understand the trials and realities of the refugee experience? As a cross-disciplinary visual artist and poet Elyas Alavi talks about his experiences through personal, playful and mythological lenses. Evoking issues of identity, in-betweenness, memory, migration and displacement, he offers a deeper understanding of his trials as a Hazara refugee, artist and migrant to Australia.
Drawing on the personal and the collective, Alavi explores Hazara experiences of displacement through an autobiographical and visual arts practice focus, involving reflections on exile and memory, on crossing borders, on longing and the desire to return home; on the wounding nature of traumatic memory; on past and present histories of persecution and displacement; and the experience of homecoming, of ‘breaking the exile’.
In 1999, Nuraini Juliastuti co-founded KUNCI Cultural Studies Center, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. KUNCI is a research collective which focuses on creative experimentation and speculative inquiry between theory and practice. Her education background includes MSc in Contemporary Asian Studies (University of Amsterdam) and PhD in Cultural Anthropology (Leiden University). Nuraini’s research writings have been published widely in Indonesian media and cultural organisation (Tempo, Kompas, The Jakarta Post, Indonesian Visual Art Archive), international art publications (Art Monthly Australia, Metropolis M, Afterall Journal, Discipline), and artists’ book and monograph (Stedelijk Museum and Sternberg Press), and refereed academic journal (Jurnal Perempuan, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies). In collaboration with KUNCI, she has produced a body of research works, which use publication, exhibition and gathering as modes of presentation and engagement. KUNCI developed Made in Commons project, which was presented in Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (in 2013) and Jogja National Museum (in 2015). In 2015, in collaboration with Para/Site and Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong, KUNCI developed Afterwork Reading Club, a reading club dedicated to the literature on modes of gendered migration. The reading club is culminated in the publication of Afterwork Readings, an anthology of short stories and poems written by Indonesian, Filipino, and Chinese workers/migrant workers. In 2017, Kunci developed Tropical Dissonance: Decolonising Knowledge through Colonial Archives and presented it at the Tropenmuseum. KUNCI is working on a long-term project titled School of Improper Education (2016-2019)- a project to experiment with different modes of pedagogy practices, and implement them within contemporary social environment. Currently Nuraini developed her own project titled Domestic Notes. Domestic Notes is a publication-based project uses domestic and migrant spaces as sites to discuss everyday politics, organisation of makeshift support system, and alternative cultural production.
“Afterwork Readings: On Indonesian migrant workers and the act of writing”: My presentation derives from Afterwork Reading Club that Kunci initiated in collaboration with the Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Hong in 2015. The project was part of Para Site’s Hong Kong Migrant Domestic Workers Project. This presentation also derives from my involvement as one of jury members of the annual Taiwan Literature Award for Migrants in 2017. Afterwork Reading Club focuses on migrant workers literature as the important point at the politics of knowledge production within the context of Indonesian labour movement. I divide the presentation into three parts. In part one, I situate writing and reading practices in the everyday life of the migrant workers. Throughout Afterwork Reading Club project, we make a connection between ‘fiction’ as a literary style and representation of subjectivity construction process. In part two, I elaborate further on the performance of the migrant workers’ writings. I situate them within the specific context of writing condition—the kitchen, park, factory, ship, and jail. I map out the discourse on subjectivities showed in the texts. I examine the writing techniques and tools used to write the texts to develop an argument around writing stories. Writing is not only a safe space to convey thoughts and anxieties. To write a story means to reclaim ‘story’ as a site for recognition and self-empowerment. In part three, I examine the Instagram accounts of some Indonesian migrant workers. Using their photo postings as resources, I draw a narrative on experiencing the distance through the perspective of migrant workers.
Shahram Khosravi is Professor of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University and the author of the books: Young and Defiant in Tehran, University of Pennsylvania Press (2008); The Illegal Traveler: an auto-ethnography of borders, Palgrave (2010); Precarious Lives: Waiting and Hope in Iran, University of Pennsylvania Press (2017), and After Deportation: Ethnographic Perspectives, Palgrave (2017, edited volume). He has been an active writer in the Swedish press and has also written fiction.
“The time of borders”: Migration and borders are generally perceived and studied as a spatial process and the temporal aspect of migration has received much less attention. In this presentation I will develop an anthropological account of the lived experiences of the temporal aspect of border practices.
Antje Missbach is a senior research fellow and lecturer at the School of Social Sciences at Monash University in Melbourne. She is interested in the politics of migration in Indonesia and the wider Asia-Pacific region, particularly transit migration, human smuggling, maritime security, social deviance, and marginalized forms of existence. She is the author of Troubled Transit: Asylum seekers stuck in Indonesia (Singapore: ISEAS, 2015) and co-editor, with Jemma Purdey, of Linking people: Connections and encounters between Australians and Indonesians (Berlin: Regiospectra, 2015). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“RESPITE” : Over the last 8 years, I have been interested in researching the everyday lives scenarios of refugees in Indonesia. So far, I have documented my findings mostly through writing texts for academic and non- or not-quite-so-academic audiences. In early 2018, however, the idea was conceived to make a short documentary about young refugees and their interactions with their Indonesian peers in the city of Makassar (central Indonesia). Filmmaker Andrianus Oetjoe, who had previously produced two short documentaries on refugees in Indonesia (http://amerdhi.mengoceh.de/transit/) and in Germany (https://www.goethe.de/ins/id/en/kul/pkt/ind/aog.html), was easily convinced to take up the task of directing this new film.
While more and more refugees have started to document their lives and the events of the refugee community through video blogs, we were mostly interested in recording the daily interactions between refugees and non-refugees. The reason for this was to “normalize” the portrayal of refugees and avoid depicting them as the “dangerous other”, thereby creating more sympathy amongst young Indonesian people for refugee-related issues (e.g. by showing this film in the classrooms of our respective universities).
When we started filming, however, the situation on the ground in Makassar changed rapidly due to some newly-introduced restrictions affecting refugees’ mobilities and their every-day encounters. Whereas Makassar used to be known for its tolerance and welcoming attitude towards refugees, suddenly local authorities started to introduce curfews and other measures of control. Unsurprisingly, many of the refugees started holding peaceful protests to raise awareness to their worsening situation. Predictably, the repercussions for those who had organized the protests were rather harsh. Thus, we were confronted with the questions on whether to continue with our project the way it had be anticipated it or whether to adopt to the changes and thus include some of those not-so-harmonic realities into the documentary as well?
The outcome is the story of two Hazara youths, who allowed us to capture some of their interactions and friendships with their Indonesian soccer club members, trainers, neighbours and (girl)friends. Moreover, the documentary offers some insights of what undetermined waiting for resettlement (or anything at all to happen) and restricted mobility looks like. Relying on metaphors and silence rather than a narrating voice, the film tries to capture some of the emotional intensities we encountered during the process of filming.
RESPITE Trailer: http://amerdhi.mengoceh.de/respite-trailer2018/
Director: Andrianus Oetjoe
Over 14,000 refugees live in Indonesia. Many come here to seek passage to another country, such as Australia or the United States, through United Nations resettlement programs. In the process, they wait in limbo for years. Some grow up here, learn the language, make friends, and fall in love with the people and the country. But they cannot stay because Indonesia has not signed the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and does not accept refugees. The film depicts the lives of two refugee youth in Makassar, and the friendships they build with Indonesians.
Dagmawi was born and grew up in Addis Ababa. He left his country after the 2005 post-election unrest in which hundreds of young people were killed and put in jail. After a long journey across the Libyan desert and the Mediterranean, he came ashore on the island of Lampedusa on 30 July 2006. In Rome, after having participated in a video-making workshop in 2007, he co-authored the film Il deserto e il mare (The desert and the sea) along with 5 other migrants. Subsequently he co-directed the 2008 documentary film Come un uomo sulla terra (Like a man on earth). He shot the documentary C.A.R.A. ITALIA (Dear Italy) in 2009 and Soltanto il mare (Nothing but the sea) in 2011, along with several other short films. In 2011 he coordinated the collective film project Benvenuti in Italia (Welcome to Italy), In 2013 a documentary entitled Va’ pensiero-walking stories, 2015 directed Asmat-Names. Dagmawi is the co-founder and vice president of the Archivio delle Memorie Migranti (Migrants Memory Archive).
“The importance of migrants on the construction of future memories”: The immigration phenomenon and the role of images in creating perception in society, through documentary cinema and other artistic communication medium, are privileged voices that can be used to break through clichés by proposing new perspective. As a migrant engaged in filmmaking I especially interrogate myself about whose role I am exactly supposed to assume once I have finalized a documentary. Am I the owner of the stories, the holder of the copyrights? Am I the seller or the medium? What external power influences the stories that I am filming? The answers are not easy.
Migrants and refugees are often used as objects of narration: they are the experts of their own disgrace. Migrants are consulted only on what they live through, but not what they think. His/her personal identity weakens and is submerged into a collective stereotypical identity. It is crucial to involve the migrant on constructing future memories and archives. It is urgent to gather the migrants’ perspective. Since the immigration phenomenon became a central aspect of the political debate in Europe (in the last two decades), there have been published materials such as films, photos and academic studies that reflects limited/one-way perspective on the phenomenon without giving enough space and opportunity to migrants’ point of view. Migrants Memory Archive wants to counter this tendency, and if it is unable to incise them into our present day, it will help to preserve the migrants’ stories and memories for future generations.
PARSE Dialogue – Art & Migration, part 1, 19 October, 2018, Glashuset, Valand Academy, Gothenburg.
PARSE Dialogue – Art & Migration, part 2, 24 January, 2019, Baulan, HDK, Gothenburg.
PARSE Dialogue – Art & Migration, part 3, 29 April, 2019, Baulan, HDK, Gothenburg.