MisplacedWomen?

Posts Tagged ‘Aberdeen’

Misplaced Man? performance in Aberdeen Airport – Contribution by Amy Bryzgel

In Aberdeen, Airports, Border, Performances, Signs on December 8, 2015 at 8:33 am

One question I always had in my mind with regard to Misplaced Women? was: what about Misplaced Men? Of course, I am aware that Tanja’s work focuses on women because they are perhaps the most vulnerable in situations related to migrations, most notably with regard to trafficking, humiliation, and separation from families. And those who know Tanja’s work also know that she does not deal exclusively with women. Her film, Sans Papiers (2004, together with David Rych), tells the stories of many men being held in detention centres in Germany. So, when the opportunity arose, I decided to stage a Misplaced Man? performance in Aberdeen.

 

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Misplaced Man? sign. Aberdeen Airport. Sign and photograph by Amy Bryzgel.

In the summer of 2015 I started organizing a conference that would involve both research talks and performances. I wanted to have a performance that would take place in the context of the presentation of papers, one that would disrupt the rhythm of the lectures. I immediately thought of Branko Milisković’s work, specifically his performance The Speech, which is part one of a two-part performance. Branko’s speech usually lasts around 4 hours, but given the time and space of the conference, and that this would be just one presentation of many, I asked him to do just 45 minutes of it. I wrote to invite him, and he agreed.

 

I knew, when I invited Branko, that as a Serbian passport holder, he would need a visa to the UK. As a US citizen (who has now naturalized in the UK), I knew all too well the complicated procedures for obtaining visas. And over the summer of 2015, a story broke about a group of performance artists from Georgia who were all denied visas to travel to the UK to participate in a performance art festival. Of course, I didn’t know the reasons behind that decision, but it was enough to give me pause about inviting Branko. But, I decided that I didn’t want to make an artistic decision based on nationality or bureaucratic procedures. That said, in inviting Branko, I was also aware that I was putting him in a situation that would be very trying for him—because although I could provide some help and support for his visa application, the burden was entirely on him to collect and submit the papers, to surrender his passport, and to wait for the decision as to whether his application deemed him worthy to enter and perform in the UK.

 

From the time that I invited Branko, on June 10, 2015, until the day that he received his visa on September 9, 2015, around one hundred emails were exchanged, regarding Branko’s visa. No art was discussed during this time. There was no discussion about the content of his speech, the logistics of his performance, how it would fit into the programme—nothing. It was not simply that we put off planning the performance until it was confirmed that he could come to the UK, but that there was simply no mental space or energy for either of us to do so. As the process went on, I felt worse and worse about putting Branko in that situation, as it was clearly very stressful for him, but wondered what choice I had: either I didn’t invite an artist that I thought was very talented and would make a valuable contribution to the conference simply based on the passport he held, or, I would undertake this task, knowing that it would put the artist under pressure.

 

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Branko Miliskovic, Misplaced Man? performance, Aberdeen Airport, UK, October 29, 2015.

In the end, we were successful, and from my view while I was glad we both took the risk, of course the process could, and should, have been easier and less stressful. But, because we are in the arts, we decided to use our power of expression to bring these issues into the public sphere in a different way. I proposed that Branko do a version of Misplaced Women? as a Misplaced Man? He is pictured here at Aberdeen Airport, just after having been cleared entry into the UK. Interestingly, he is standing in front of a picture of Dunnottar Castle, where I had taken Tanja when she was in Aberdeen in April 2015. Above him, a sign reads “currency exchange.” In fact, it was art that was Branko’s currency—his cultural capital is what enabled him to receive a visa to the UK and do his first performance there. I am glad to report that he is not a Misplaced Man.

Misplaced Women? Performance Workshop, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, April 1, 2015 – Contribution by Fabia Brustia

In Aberdeen, Workshops on April 30, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Fabia Brustia is a student in English and Literature in a World Context at the University of Aberdeen. The following are her thoughts on the project and photographs of her participation and contribution in the workshop.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary online defines the verb ‘to misplace’ as:

  • to put in a wrong or inappropriate place
  • to lose (something) for a short time by forgetting where you put it <misplaced the keys>
  • to set on a wrong object or eventuality <his trust had been misplaced>

This indicates that the agent and the ‘object’ of the action do not correspond, and that the act of misplacing something has been accidental or, in the case of an eventuality, estimated incorrectly.

My wallet contains my story of young woman and student, of sister and daughter, of friend, of bookworm, of migrant… This multiplicity of identities are enclosed in a single piece of leather that my mum gave me when I was 18. It contained her story, but it was ready to start sewing together the components of another one.

Fabia Brustia; Photo by Tanja Ostojic

Fabia Brustia; Photo by Tanja Ostojic

The objects in my wallet can be divided into different categories:

  • cards of places I wanted to remember because of the good memories I want to keep with their help

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    Fabia Brustia explains her work to Tanja Ostojic, and workshop participants. Photo by Filip Barche.

  • cards of five different coffee shops in Aberdeen
  • a card of the café where I worked for two years during the summer and the bus pass provided by the hotel I work for in Aberdeen
  • the business card of the coordinator of Carbon School, a project for which I volunteer in the last two years
  • library cards of three different places; a list of books I want to read which I wrote when I was 16 and I still keep with me, as I have managed to read only half of those books so far; a fidelity card of my favourite second-hand bookshop in Italy
  • documents such as driving license, national ID, student ID, two credit cards and health insurance card
  • money from three different places: an American dollar, a few pounds and a 1000 Lire note (pre-Euro currency of Italy)
  • unclassifiable objects:
  • a picture of me and one of my dearest friends in Italy
  • a playing card with a Queen of clubs on it
  • a coloured hexagram made of paper that nuns in the convent of Carrión de los Condes gave me when I stopped there in 2012, when I walked from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela
  • a card with ‘In bocca al lupo!’ (‘Break a leg!’ In Italian) signed by my grandfather, who misspelt his signature because he left school when he was 8, so he tries to write only when he absolutely must
  • a leaf with the name of my brother and my name written with Celtic runes that my uncle gave me ten years ago
Fabia Brustia, Photo by Tanja Ostojic

Fabia Brustia, Photo by Tanja Ostojic

During the workshop with Tanja Ostojić, I tried to reproduce the same classification system in front of me, but I realised the division did not quite work. Objects cannot be divided into groups, as they link the events of my life and my migration together. I believe that the hexagram is the most meaningful thing I have in my wallet. Symbolising the position of man between earth and sky in Hinduism, it is usually connected to the Star of David or Jewish Star. The connection between Jewish people and diaspora (that is, the movement of a population from its land of origin) is almost automatic, and it links with the condition of in-between person I am, as I grew ‘physically’ and ‘morally’ in Italy, but I am expanding my knowledge in Scotland. What is more, it was that long month I spent hiking from France to the west border of Spain until Finisterre which motivated me to come to Scotland to experience a new way of living and studying. For this reason, the star can be easily connected to my library cards, as it was my interest for literature that pushed me to apply for the University of Aberdeen, and to my student ID. In short, three objects from three different places (Italy, Spain, and Scotland).

Like the cards in my wallet, I do not fit into one single category: I am an English and Literature in a World Context student, raised and born in Italy, who spent the last three years of her life in Scotland for the love of knowledge. I cannot say my home is Italy, as I have created strong connections in and outside Aberdeen and at the same time all over the world, thanks to the variety of nationalities my life at university and my work allowed me to meet.

Fabia Brustia. Photo by Tanja Ostojic.

Fabia Brustia. Photo by Tanja Ostojic.

That is the message I felt when I saw the pictures of the performance by Tanja Ostojić for the first time, and when we proposed again the performance in April. There is no misplacement, because the fact of being in a particular place and voluntarily creating the story of our migration in front of a group of viewers or passers-by has been decided by us. We place ourselves in the world and, thanks to the connections we create with others, we will never be misplaced.

-Fabia Brustia

Aberdeen International Airport, United Kingdom, March 31, 2015

In Aberdeen, Airports, Signs on April 8, 2015 at 11:15 am

Misplaced Women? Sign held by Amy Bryzgel at the domestic arrivals halls, Aberdeen International Airport, UK

Photo: Tanja Ostojic

Amy Bryzgel at Aberdeen Airport. Photo: Tanja Ostojic

Photo: Tanja Ostojic

On March 31, 2015, Tanja Ostojic arrived in Aberdeen to give a workshop to students on “Misplaced Women?” and also participate in a Director’s Cut interview at the University of Aberdeen. She invited me to do this delegated performance when I picked her up at the airport, so of course I agreed. As the author of numerous publications on performance art, I am all for performative airport pick-ups!

Misplaced Women sign Photo: Amy Bryzgel

Misplaced Women sign
Photo: Amy Bryzgel

Misplaced Women sign by Amy Bryzgel

Photo: Amy Bryzgel

Am I a Misplaced Woman? I often ask myself where my place in the world is. I was born and raised in America, but lived for several years in Poland and Latvia, where I also learned both of those languages and attempted to integrate into local society in each place. Now, I live in Scotland, which has its own identity in the UK. The city I live in is Aberdeen, which is known for being an oil capital of Europe, as well as its its ancient university; so, by definition, it is a migrant city. I think it is difficult to fit in anywhere, even in your home country, because there is always something that makes you different from those that surround you. But I also have spent much of my adult life dealing with work and study visas, and amassing mountains of paperwork to get the necessary permissions to stay in the countries where I am not a natural born citizen. So I understand migration from its many different aspects.

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