dear Cecilia, dear Crumb,
Cecilia, thanks for your inspired posting which gives me the opportunity to
briefly also contribute. I have currently a very tight schedule and even
just following the discussion is difficult for me. But following on to what
Cecilia said, I would like to add a few thoughts.
In my view, there is often a pattern in discussions about migrations and
digital art that the focus is on tools that can help migrants. Please don't
misunderstand me, I am a fan of Transborder Immigrant Tool, for instance,
and have written about it, in an article that will form part of Companion
to Digital Art edited by Christiane Paul which will come out in 2016.
Yet what I suggest is maybe just a focus. In a book a few years ago, Saskia
Sassen somehow framed the question like this. Usually, migrants / refugees
are presented as victims, as people in a very precarious situation, which
is all quite true, But despite such obvious powerlessness, Sassen pointed
out that migrants have agency too. For instance, through their activity
they pose important questions about citizenship, and manage to clinge
rights, civil rights, personal rights for themselves, thereby having a
lasting impact on the legal landscape.
Following this lead we could maybe ask, what s the agency of refugees
beyond the legal aspects Sassen talks about? Where and how do refugees
become active subjects of their own history and not just unwelcome objects
to be dealt with, by increasingly petulant administrations. And in which
ways can artists support that protest, rather than starting from the
assumption that another technological tool would be the best way to go
My second point could easily amount to a long long essay but unfortunately
I don't have time. Since a number of years, I live in Vienna, Austria.
Unlike the UK, Austria did not have large waves of immigration in the 1950s
and 1960s from people from outside Europe. Until recently, most migrants
tended to be from former Yugoslavia and Turkey.
However, as you are all well aware, this summer this dramatically changed.
Suddenly Austria became a frontline state. Austrian prime minister Faymann
and Angela Merkel decided to suspend the stupid Dublin agreement and allow
refugees to come to Austria and Germany. Of the more than one Million
people who passed through Austria since end of August, about 80 - 100.000
applied for asylum here, that is, in a nation of 8 million.
What happened and still happens since is one of the most amazing things I
have experienced in my life. Despite xenophobic hate campaigns by certain
media (local version of the Daily Hate) and rightwing populists it turned
out that tens of thousands of people are ready to help and spend large
portions of their leisure time distributing water, helping with
translations, setting up care homes for unaccompanied youths, organise soup
kitchens and so on and so forth.
Up until July 2015, supporting refugees was only done by small groups,
usually with a leftwing background (that discounting for church base
organisations). Suddenly it has become like a movement sweeping through all
layers of society.
But the other side is also active, rightwing populists are foaming at their
mouth and have been able to gain seats in local elections. But the picture
is not as clearcut as it seems. In VIenna at least the rise of the right
was stopped by a social democrat mayor who won the vote on a clear
pro-refugee mandate. The situation is polarizing and it could become like
in the 1930s, when Red Vienna was surrounded by catholics and
Austro-fascists (well, lets hope not).
What I wanted to say, besides those observations, is that this latest
stream of migrants has already changed a lot. The app 100.000 people mainly
from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq who came to stay only this year - next year a
similar number can be expected - will change Austria forever.
The sheer numbers of those arriving have already demonstrated that both
"Schengen" and "Dublin" were ill-conceived systems, bad legislation.
Currently, conservative politicians try to patch up "Dublin" again by
"securing external borders" and making dodgy deals with wannabe-dictators
such as Erdogan. But it wont hold. Europe has to learn that it cant be a
happy island in an ocean of poverty, violence and misery. Europe will have
to learn to live with open borders and an open mind. It will also have to
cherish its positive qualities, such as the "welcome culture" that has
developed here, to discover, how much wealth and ability we have despite
the "austerity" disease's crippling influence on the mind of politicians.
Power to the migrant!
On Tue, Dec 1, 2015 at 2:30 AM, Cecilia Wee <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hello all
> Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion so far.
> As one of the hosts this month (together with Dani Admiss), I would like to
> touch briefly on why I am concerned with this issue as a curator and a
> human being.
> On Saturday, Dani and I had the pleasure of convening a group of
> practitioners for a workshop on the subject of migration at Furtherfield
> Commons in London (web link), the IRL aspect of our project. A few CRUMB
> listers were able to join us, including Beryl Graham, Ruth Catlow and Jamie
> Allen (and we look forward to Jamie's dispatch from COP Paris later on in
> the week). We shared stories, assumptions and impressions of what we think
> 'technologies of migration' are, examining their limits and thinking about
> what they could be. Taking small examples like SIM cards and ziplock bags,
> we tried to reframe and rethink the social and political contexts of such
> infrastructural technologies. We spoke about the notion of authenticity and
> about the voices who are heard in the debates about migration.
> Something significant that Dani and I took away from the workshop was that
> in spite of the rhetoric of sharing, the supposed ubiquity of outlets for
> expression otherwise termed ’social’ media, there is still a strong need to
> give space to other perspectives, to listen, to posit and practice the
> possibility of dialogue. Political positioning about migration is often
> predicated on lazy and unsophisticated images of victim, intruder,
> guardian, proud defendant of the land, traitor. The reality is of course
> more complex - for instance, what position should we take if we are
> children of migrants? Rather than reinforcing structures that dictate who
> is/isn’t the authentic voice, raising collective consciousness that
> multiple Other voices and views can and do exist, and providing a channel
> for dialogue to take place is but one example of the role art and design
> can play in social justice.
> As i walk from the tube station to College, the pristine homogenity of the
> visual environment hits me - if this was the only London i saw i would
> never believe that poverty, discrimination or inequality existed in this
> city. The necessity of making these underrepresented situations public,
> visible and tangible drives me to 'carry on curating'.
> The social media silos promote tunnel vision.
> Patriotic posturing refutes the validity of the long view, the Long Now, or
> the long ever.
> In the words of Italian Berlin-based artist Costantino Ciervo: *BORDERS ARE
> BORING - NATIONS ARE NUTS*
> Borders act as exclusionary barriers that block lines of sight.
> Poetry is important, tools are too.
> peace out,
> Cecilia Wee
> Tutor, Sound Design
> Royal College of Art
> School of Communication
> Kensington Gore, London
> SW7 2EU
> E: [log in to unmask]
> T: +44 (0)20 7590 4313
> twitter.com/rcaevents <http://twitter.com/RCAevents>
> facebook.com/rca.london <http://facebook.com/RCA.London>
> *please assume I am offline on evenings and weekends*