Link It, Mark It / online live talk IV

LINK IT MARK IT fourth activity – public discussion / Erased, global migrations

Link It, Mark It (Poveži, obeleži) / Javni razgovor u okviru projekta

Link: streaming) 14. maj 2020. / 14th May 2020

Participants: Maryam Mohammadi, Arif Kryeziu, Mawiead Al Karam, Samson Ogiamien, Zoë Guglielmi; Moderator & Curator: Igor Friedrich Petković

Realised by SULUV in cooperation with APORON 21, Graz.

We searched for international artists, who have a history as forced migrants, refugees, or asylum seekers, and express their strong life experiences through their per-sonal iconography in arts.Within this talk we’ve presented 5 international artists with strong migrational biographies. We’ve reflected on their diverse ways, routes and reasons of migra-tion, the different tactics of adopting artistic tools of expressions to process the social and institutional repressions and to give a strong voice and face to their cancelled, deleted, assimilated, transformed, or fluid hybrid, transcultural, multiple, universal identities, stories and narratives. Participants:

Maryam Mohammadi, Art Photographer and concept artist, emigrated from Iran/Teheran, now living in Graz/Austria

Zoë Guglielmi, Art Painter, emigrated from Croatia/Zagreb to Vienna, lived in 6 different countries, now living and working in Greece

Mawiead Al Karam (aka Moët, aka Valentin Faschingbauer), Photographer/Filmmaker, emigrated from Syria/Aleppo, via the Balkan route to Austria, now living and working in Salzburg.

Arif Kryeziu, Fine Artist, Author, Art Dissident, emigrated from Yugoslavia, Kosovo before the wars, now living and working in Graz/ Austria

Samson Ogiamien, Freelance Artist, emigrated from Ni-geria/Benin City to Graz, now living and working here;

Igor Friedrich Petković: The ongoing global migration crisis brought art provocateur and activist Banksy to fund a search-and-rescue boat into the Mediterranean Sea. An artist saves lives and does the job of governments. But can Art save anything and when yes, how?

We’re opening a dialogue about the virulent subject of global migration today and the role of visual arts practice as a strong discourse contribution. Influencing public narratives allows us to be more than spectators in the discourse about arms-protected borders, global migration crisis, closing identity constructions and new racist nationalism. Art has a remarkable power to move people and institutions and to break old established structures.

Maryam Mohammadi told us about the nature of her power to move the perception of people (and society) through art, where it comes from and how it is connect-ed with hidden or forgotten female stories, like in her photographic series “Memories Icon” and “Guerrilla of Enlightenment”. Through photographic methods like double development or picture manipulation she hacks historic iconographies of identity and homeland in new multiverses of diverse beings. Her engagement against dominant story-lines in society, makes her act (or react), to find new narratives and ways to tell them to a wider public. In her intercultural art projects, she breaks with stereotypic icons and shows a diverse history and presence of migrant stories and memories.

The journey that Mawiead Al Karam took before he got the refugee status was long, hard, expensive and dangerous. Mawiead speaks open about fear, alienation, depression and darkness and how he could over-come this negativity through arts and creativity. Such deeply personal experiences of displacement largely remain hidden from the public consciousness although we’ve seen some of these journeys captured in shocking detail on the news. Media, arts and activism have turned the reality of global migration into a politically charged discussion of universal human rights. Through his distinctive cinematic storytelling, Mawiead holds space for himself and other refugees, to reclaim his life from the notion of victimhood. His art is a contribution aimed to humanise the refugee crisis for a larger public. Making art and being creative allows people to explore all kinds of diverse facets of who they really are as people, as humans. Here, they are not reduced to a single label such as race, class, gender or immigration status.

What makes art so powerful is the development of resilience – it allows artists themselves and the spectators to connect with their emotions and feelings. Samson Ogiamien adds to this: “Convincing art that brings people together and stimulates reflection is made not only with the mind and hands but it has to come directly from the heart. I understand my art as a medium of communication. It can and should provide material for discussion and provoke a debate on the issues portrayed. At best it creates communication itself and connects people. This is the power of art”.

“Only that which happens out of love is real”for Arif Kryeziu. He tells us with figurative language in his novel “Fucking Karma: Or Stories That Never End” how love and karma are connected and that everything else is unreal. A short intro:Alim Taleku suffers from megalomania. At least that is how it seems when the first-person narrator reports how he defeated a polygraph, competed against the most dangerous bull in the village or, encouraged by Dumas’ Count von Monte Christo, breaks out of prison. The reality of the refugee from Kosovo seems far too fantastic to us. But what if Alim’s stories are true and life is really a great fairy tale that has only disappeared in the grey of terrible reality? “Fucking Karma – Or Stories That Never End” by Arif Kryeziu takes the reader on a melancholic journey through memories in this social novel. Alim Taleku ended up in prison in Yugoslavia in 1984 for political reasons. Through scraps of memories from past and happy days, he endures the horrors of the present. Tortured and robbed of all dignity, our hero finds out with the reader what makes a person a person. In a dialogue with himself, Alim continues to explore human nature until he becomes aware of a truth that can give a mortal the strength to survive the darkest days. Between a dream, narrative and reality, the life story unfolds of a man who goes through hell to see heaven and goes through the external war to find inner peace.

‘People cross borders. / It’s been that way ever since / borders crossed people,’ “Dear people of Mars: / are our borders visible / in your evening sky?” writes Antoine Cassar in his “8 no-border haiku”.

But worldwide borders are closed again and lockdowns mean that the movement of people has largely stopped. And many refugees and asylum seekers can’t stay still. They are forced to make dangerous journeys until they are able to seek refuge in safer lands. As a young girl, Zoë Guglielmi had the experience of a forced refugee because of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Now she travels freely and settles down in different countries, transforming the former negative experience of displacement into a true artistic passion for travelling. Changing landscapes, languages and cultures offers her a wide range of new influences and inspiration for her art. In her series “Birds” she paints beings who ignore borders through their existence and reflect on the old human dream of flying in freedom. Living this freedom now as a freelance artist, she still reflects on very per-sonal and universal stories of connectedness and uncertainty.

Philipe Baeza, a Mexican artist says on Immigration in the NY Times: “I believe that when we share our images and tell our stories, we illustrate the human struggle — and this has the power to win over broad audiences. Art drives ideas home in a way that is unmatched by any other medium. We need multidimensional, complex stories about who we are; we need to represent ourselves in our full humanity. That is how we can combat racism and that is how we can achieve justice. But more importantly, that is how we reclaim our existence.”

In this sense, let us reclaim our existence in the following exhibition in Novi Sad 2022!



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