Borders, citizenship and migration dominate political and media agendas. The referendum about EU membership in 2016 in Britain and the so-called refugee crisis in particular have once again sparked intense polarisation leading to both rise of xenophobia and solidarity activism. In times of social upheaval and transience we need to find space to ask who we are and how we know who we are.
This special feature is developed by our guest editors Giota Alevizou and Sara de Jong of The Open University. It is part of a larger collaboration between The Open University and Counterpoints Arts (CPA) with the Universities of Loughborough and Warwick, who in March 2017 organized a free 6-day cross-platform event entitled Who Are We? as part of a Tate Exchange Programme. The programme will continue for a second year with a week-long event in May 2018. Read more about the special feature and the programme...
A partnership with the Open University, Counterpoints Arts, and Tate Exchange
Citizenship enfranchises as well as marginalizes. Some can buy their citizenship by investment, while others are excluded and criminalized, raising questions about relationalities and acts of solidarity.
Who we are in the present harks back to our past. Read here about how the East India Company haunts us in contemporary London, about how to update and mashup the Union Flag and read the story about the Who Are We? Tate Exchange exhibition.
Our sense of self is tied up with our sense of belonging. How can we build communities without creating echo chambers? And how we can become something beyond the confines of government data?
While all art might be political, it can be political in various ways. Read here about attempts to artivism in politically fraught times, about art and public participation beyond voyeurism and artists’ responsibility and ethics in representing others.
Citizenship and Solidarities
MARCIA CHANDRA and NELE VOS
Citizenshop is an interactive travelling installation which explores the multidimensional means of citizenship in a neoliberal world. It opposes the neoliberal concept of the acquisition of citizenship by investment, as is offered by an increasing number of governments across the world today. Instead, it asserts the multidimensional needs and interpretations of citizenship by the world’s people, and instigates a radical humanistic inquiry that seeks to stimulate new questions. View in full...
ALENA PFOSER and LISA PILGRAM
Can a concept of conviviality help to remind us of every day acts of kindness, which go beyond obsessions with ‘difference’?
UMUT EREL, ALIA SYED and SARA DE JONG
Crossing London's Rotherhithe tunnel by foot, we mirror the journey of people like Abdul Haroun – arrested on arrival.
GIOTA ALEVIZOU, PHOTINI VRIKKI
Expressions of migrant solidarity through the #1DayWithoutUs campaign sought to counterbalance xenophobic sentiments, offering a multiplicity of migrant voices and experiences in the UK today.
Hi/stories and Memories
MARCIA CHANDRA and GIL MUALEM DORON
The New Union Flag is a modified version of the Union Jack, which includes traditional textile designs of former colonised communities and of various ethnic and national groups that live in the UK today. These are arranged in relation to the geographical locations from which they originated. The flag also contains small boats made from jiffy cloths, representing past and present migration from and to the UK. The project was piloted in 2014 and has engaged thousands of people through 3 exhibitions, community gatherings, and pro-refugee and LGBT+ rallies. View in full...
The concept of hospitality was central, as audiences engaged with imagined and ‘real’ others, while the gallery space extended a welcoming invitation for public participation, creative re-interpretation and multi-vocality.
SARA DE JONG and LAURA MALACART
Some believe that an Indian businessman now buying the East India Company is a final victory over empire. But even Sanjiv Mehta himself doesn’t grant this, saying, "I saw a commercial opportunity... and that’s why I bought it. I'm not a philosopher". In a nutshell, economic forces are the overriding factor in the creation of identity: identities are created through consumption.
What is the role of the gallery or museum in responding to the most urgent and pressing social and political crises of our time? Is it, as Okwui Enwezor, Director of Haus der Kunst suggests, about the power to ‘make things visible’ or does it have an even more active and critical role to play?
Identities and Communities
TATE EXCHANGE TEAM
“In the nightmare of the dark / All the dogs of Europe bark, / And the living nations wait, / Each sequestered in its hate” — W.H. Auden ‘In Memory of W.B. Yeats’ (1940). Auden’s homage to Yeats conjures an uncanny, resonant image of contemporary Europe, one increasingly divided, fastening its borders against real and imagined ‘others’. Guided by Auden’s quote and inspired by the open dialogue at Tate Exchange about art and its social importance, we explored what it means to be civic, creating a space for encounters between people and communities often kept apart by binaries: artists vs. audiences, academics vs. artists, migrants vs. ‘natives’, and activists vs publics. View in full...
GIOTA ALEVIZOU and LUCIA SCAZZOCCHIO
The expression of emotion is key to the spread of declarations online. But can online identities really address the difficult political realities of migration?
SARA DE JONG and ALENA PFOSER
It is our sedentary bias, our belief that mobility and migration are the exception rather than the rule, which fuels this distrust of the mobile.
EVELYN RUPPERT and DAWID GÓRNYCitizens have a right to actively participate in making knowledge about the societies of which they are a part and opening them to democratic contestation.
Arts and Ethics
MARCIA CHANDRA and BEHJAT OMER ABDULLA
What would it mean to experience our own privileged lives as inextricably tied up with the exposed lives of less fortunate others elsewhere in the world? Under the fear of war, as thousands of families fled their homelands, a mother of twin infants started her journey to seek a safer place. During the journey, a tragedy occurred. Behjat explores these events through a series of drawings in order to reflect on their meaning and make connections to a wider audience. View in full...
AGNES CZAJKA and EVA SAJOVIC
Exploring the politics and ethics of representing ‘others’ in a time of global displacement, and interrogating the use of participatory arts practices when working with displaced populations.
At a fraught political moment, the project repeatedly asks: who are ‘we'? Who gets to decide? What does it mean to belong?
UMUT EREL and BEHJAT OMER ABDULLA
How can the stories we tell about tragic experiences connect people and create cultures of bearing witness and responsibility rather than encouraging voyeurism or indifference?