MisplacedWomen?

Posts Tagged ‘identity’

Dagmara Bilon realised 3 performances on gentrification, home and identity in the frame of “Misplaced Women?” workshop hosted by LADA London, December 13 & 14, 2016

In Homes, London, Performances, Railway-stations, Workshops on March 13, 2017 at 1:12 pm

In the frame of Tanja Ostojić´s “Misplaced Women?” workshop hosted by Live Arts Development Agency London, on December 13 & 14, 2016, Dagmara Bilon realised 3 performance interventions which she has called “embodied investigations into home and identity; a protest against becoming a silenced and isolated as wallpaper, dedicated to the ever-changing landscape of London in the mist of gentrification.” 

For my first intervention I chose to unpack my heavy back-pack on  a street corner in Hackney Wick near the neighborhood’s formerly longest occupied squat. I took of my heavy rucksack from my back and start to unpack. It’s full of various objects, accumulated over time: my childhood toys, my children’s toys, things I need for work, such as gaffe-tape, iPad, mobile phone, cigarettes, wire, lots of stones to ground me, so as not to fly away, a black fabric sphere that symbolised the veil of grief for the loss of my father, white pieces of fabric that I use to collect my menstrual blood, pens, pencils, a toy-snake. As I unpack my bag it feels never ending. Bits and pieces of glitter, receipts, notes… Lots and lots of junk, but to me – a trail of my existence. All the objects are bare on the wet concrete floor. While I see them, I feel uncertain of my survival, slightly embarrassed, like a public emptying of the bowels, spilling of my organs. I don’t dare to look into anyone’s eyes;I start to pack my bag as quickly as I possibly can, stuffing things back inside my dirty old rucksack. But there is always something more, always something else spilling out…

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My second performance featured a surreal procession of a displaced female body in a red suitcase, walking in black high heels and black velvet tight leggings over a Bridge in Olympic Park, that leads to London’s biggest shopping mall,Westfield Stratford. In the morning on that day, I took my large red suitcase from my room that contains all my dresses and props from previous London performances. This is when the performance started. I carried the suitcase from my room in South East London to Hackney,down the stairs, down the road, and on public transport. While walking I’m reminiscing of my immigrationat the age of three with my mother from Poland to Germany, with one and only suitcase filled with our possessions. In my associations of a single woman standing by a bus stop with a big red suitcase, symbolises vulnerability danger, but also power. The power to move on. As I travel I notice the eyes of people peeking and then quickly shifting back onto their daily newspaper or smart phone.

Then,  standing by a bridge together with the group of participants from the “Misplaced Woman?” workshop. I open my suitcase and hand my items one by one to individuals in the group. To me this is a most humane and kind experience. To have my items held by others. I take off my golden sandals and step inside my black high heel shoes and through the two holes I have cut in the red suitcase. I squeeze my body into the suitcase and ask a volunteer from the group to lock the suitcase and point me straight over the bridge. I’m inside now, locked in. I can’t see where I am going. My legs are wobbly. The core of my body contorted. I want to speak: “am I going into the right direction?” — but I  don’t have a voice ‘in there’, inside the suitcase. Spontaneously, a member of the group directs me how to walk forwards. I feel even more powerless, cut off and disorientated. I have no choice but to follow instructions and to focus on my feet, to stay on the ground and continue moving forward.

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For my third performance, I shared an intervention with three women from the “Misplaced Woman?” workshop at Hackney Wick Overground Station. I chose to locate myself on the other side of the platform. It was not ideal for documenting the action. I deliberately wanted to experience the gap between us and the feeling of loosing side of each other as trains move in and out of the platform.

The last time I saw my father was on the other side of a platform in 1985.

I place my red suitcase on the floor and slowly unpack all my dresses and props from previous London performances. Each of them with a story to tell, the dust of previous locations, the smell of sweat or dump, and leave a trace of these items around me that for a sort of island.

I’m standing in the middle of the island and at last pull out a huge Cunt Sculpture. I stand up on the bench “on my island” and hold up my Cunt up high. A train comes into the platform. People are going in and out. A man takes a picture from within the train. The doors are closing. The train moves out again.

I step off the bench, pack up my suitcase again and as I walk over to the other side of the platform to join the others, a mother with a baby looks at me beaming and asks if it was a vagina that I was holding up?

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Text written by: Dagmara Bilon

Edited by Tanja Ostojić and Danyel Ferreri

Photos by the “Misplaced Women?” workshop participants London

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Dagmara Bilon (b.1981) is a London based Polish/German Performance Artist, Co-Founder of The Purple Ladies Performance Collective, Artist Mentor on The Talking Gender Project and Project Manager of The MotherHouse. Since graduating in 2003 from Trinity Laban with a degree in Dance Theater she has worked as a performer for companies such as Punchdrunk, Psychological Art Circus, The Bones Theater, Marissa Carnesky, Ear Cinema and Lundahl&Seitl. Simultaneously she created and produced her own independent performance projects including staged works, sight specific interventions and one to one performances. More recently she focused on developing performance actions that challenge the notions of motherhood and identity and exhibited work alongside The Desperate Art Wives. She has also conducted various community arts led projects engaging young people in the discourse of gender, sexuality and identity. www.dagmarabilon.com

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Alice Tuppen-Corps unpacked her suitcase on December 14 2016 and created the “Wherever I Lay My Hat That’s My Home” Performance in Hackney Wick London

In Homes, London, Performances, Workshops on March 13, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Alice Tuppen-Corps unpacked her suitcase on December 14 2016 and created the Wherever I Lay My Hat That’s My Home Performance in Hackney Wick London, in the frame of “Misplaced Women?” performance workshop lead by Tanja Ostojić, hosted by LADA.

Wherever I Lay My Hat That’s My Home, Solo Performance for Film (Private). White Post Lane. 5.30am – 6.30am and Solo Performance for Film (Live Audience) LADA 14th December 2016.

Alice’s research investigates how specific forms of encounter with individual stories and personal objects can act as enabling agents, transforming the emotional, psychological and creative experience of worlds. In this piece, ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat That’s My Home’, the artist took possessions from her own home to include: a portrait of herself aged four years old, an Eiffel Tower gifted to her in Paris by a lover, her broken wedding ring, two lion hats, a whip, a box of matches and a spikey golden hedgehog.

Foremost a filmmaker, (as well as and significantly here a divorcee), Alice experienced the first day of the workshop with Tanja as a ‘watcher’. She absorbed the performances of others whilst waiting for the moment it felt right for her to perform. That moment came in the early hours of the following morning, inspired by the place she encountered as her ‘home for the night’, an artist’s squat in the East End of London.

‘Alice walked in. She was welcomed, perturbed even, by a new world of waiting objects: a guillotine, two dressmaker’s dummies, broken pots, old papers, a crumpled bed. Placing her suitcase on the floor she took off her hat, coat, shoes and she dressed the two dressmaker’s dummies that confronted her. Arranging her portrait amongst the other pictures on the wall she laid out her own vessels, four little dishes and a Van Gogh teddy bear. Alice infiltrated the space through the slow positioning of her objects. She embodied the space as she integrated her objects with those of the absent ‘host’, in this way she re-storyed herself into a new place of belonging. Alice made the squat her home. The two dummies became her ‘animated’ roommates. She re-worked these characters as symbolic of others she had, lost, left, displaced by her leaving her own home and former relationships. Seeing the characters before her, changed and enlivened by her interventions, she saw others and herself more clearly. As the dummies spoke back to with such autobiographical agency, Alice accessed and activated memories that allowed her to reposition herself. She became placed.

Alice Tuppen-Corps Live Performance with Portrait (6)

Alice Tuppen-Corps: Live Performance with Portrait, Photo: Shannon Mulvey

Alice Tuppen-Corps Live Performance with Hat (7)

Alice Tuppen-Corps: Live Performance with Hat

Alice documented the process and re-performed the ‘unpacking’ of the suitcase to a live audience at LADA that evening and in dialogue with onscreen photographs of the objects when in-situ at the squat. In the live, audiences were dressed by Alice and given offerings from the case to ‘care for’, one audience member said that ‘she felt a transformative wave flow over her, issuing out from the performer, touching the audience and drawing them into the co-generation of a [third space], simultaneously journeying inward to self, outward towards performer and across to the screen’.

Video: Wherever I Lay My Hat That’s My Home

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Alice Tuppen-Corps is a practice-based Ph.D. Researcher and Digital Performance Lecturer at De Montfort University. She was trained at Goldsmiths College and The Slade School of Fine Art with a background in Broadcast and Media Production, Higher Education and Arts Psychotherapy.  She is a Ph.D. practice-based researcher and artist based in the East Midlands.

She is principally investigating ‘Digital Performance and the Feminine: Transformational Encounters’. In her artistic practice she filmically re-stages individual stories within augmented, networked and tactile environments in order to generate new qualities of reflective space that empower transformation, contemplation and connection. Bracha Ettinger’s concept of ‘Carriance’ is theoretically foreground, allowing ‘the other’ to be ‘within me [him/her] charged’. Alice adopts Ettinger’s concept of ‘Thinking (M) otherwise’ (2006) and performatively facilitates her participants to co-create within matrixial spaces of technological, sculptural, filmic and relational aesthetics. Like a ‘Mobius Strip’, her artworks reciprocally and affectively touch back and within such artistic carriance structures, a hopeful and restorative dance is activated in self and other regardless of sexual or gender identification. www.alicetuppencorps.com

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Text: Alice Tuppen-Corps

Video: Shannon Mulvey
Photographs: Alice Tuppen–Corps, Shannon Mulvey

Email: alicecharlotte(AT)myself.com

Misplaced Women? Performance Workshop in LADA London

In London, Workshops on March 7, 2017 at 6:39 pm

LADA was delighted to host a London iteration of Misplaced Women? in December 2016. The Misplaced Women? workshop by Tanja Ostojić took place as part of a LADA residency being undertaken by the artist and researcher Elena Marchevska exploring Live Art practices and methodologies on working with issues of displacement. Tanja Ostojić ’s practice and the ideas at the heart of the Misplaced Women? project are so central to Elena’s thinking, and so vital to current issues, that it was a wonderful and timely opportunity to be able to invite Tanja to London.

Participants for the workshop were selected by an open call for proposals, and we were thrilled with the level of interest in the workshop from such a wide range of artists, activists and thinkers. Over two days the sixteen participants created a new community, and, following excursions into the badlands of East London, inspired a gathering of interested parties with presentations of the works they had each created in such a short space of time.

It was an honour and a privilege to work with Tanja Ostojić and to host Misplaced Women? in London.   

Lois Keidan, LADA

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Tanja Ostojić:

I am grateful that I had great opportunity to lead two days long intensive performance art workshop hosted by Live Art Development Agency London, on invitation by Dr Elena Marchevska who also organised and facilitated our program including the final presentation.

Misplaced Women? Performance Workshop is one of important formats under the umbrella of the  “Misplaced Women?” Project (ongoing since 2009) that I have developed in the past several years.  Many participants of diverse nationalities, professions, genders, age and backgrounds have went though it so far Europe wide. Workshops are made in small and mid size groups with four to sixteen participants. Workshops have been hosted by high schools, universities, art schools, (performance)art spaces and festivals. My role within it is to initiate sensibility, dialogues and thinking about issues of displacement, migration, public space, security, exposure, gentrification, sensitivity to the issues of gender in the context of migration, between others; to initiate people to try out performative acts in the public space, and further more to give them space, support and encouragement to realise performances. And as well to facilitate them to participate in group public presentations of their workshop activities and to produce afterwords written reflexions or further interventions related to it, that some of them I edit and publish on the project´s on-line blog. Occasionally processes of healing related to deep personal, legislative or family traumas are occurring as well. Some of workshop participants produce as well at later stage works or writings that have been inspired by creative processes in this workshop.

The London iteration of the Workshop was of high quality thanks to the good organisation and pre scouting of the neighbourhood and high motivation and quality of the participants selected via open call.

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Tanja Ostojić. Photo: Danyel Ferarri

I´ve also done one small performance intervention myself, to “brake the ice” at the beginning of the outdoor part of the workshop, at 1pm on December 13, 2016 in the closest vicinity of LADA. My intention was to memorise the 3 years long fruitful existence and one year time of displacement of the ]performance s p a c e [  due to the gentrification processes raging in Hackney Wick. Along with physical changes of the neighbourhood came increased rents and the inevitable loss of arts spaces, including the important venue ]performance s p a c e [, which moved to Folkestone following complaints from residents of newly built condominium complexes.  

And so in front of the entrance of what used to be the important performance art venue I was thinking of how many amassing performances have been realised there in three years of its existence, while emptying all the contents of my hand bag and my pockets, turning every single item inside out.. At the end of this cycle, standing in socks without coat on a cardboard on a wet London December day, in front of the former location of the ]performance s p a c e [, I read a poem from a book that I purchased a day before while scouting the Westwood Shopping Mall in Stratford Station. It was a powerful poem from Adrienne Rich´s book “The Dream of a Common Language”. Then came the cycle in reverse and I turned back and packed one by one all my stuff…

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The following workshop participants developed their works in the frame of the “Misplaced Women?” London Workshop. I would like to invite you to please check out participants contributions in text, photos and videos, that I edited and published on the project blog:

Elena Marchevska holding the Misplaced Women? sign on Heathrow Airport 

Danyel Ferrari´s Article in ArtSlant

Teresa Albor´s performance interventions

Camilla Canocchi 

Shannon Mulvey 

Cherry Truluck

Seila Fernandez Arconada

Alice Tuppen

Hilary Williams 

Dagmara Bilon

Jasmine Lee

Nicholas Harris

Sara Zaltash

Sophie Cero

Miki Zea

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Lois Keidan is a co-founder and the Director of the Live Art Development Agency. She was Director of Live Arts at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London from 1992 to 1997 where she devised a year round programme of new performance and initiated numerous new ventures for established and emerging artists. Prior to the ICA, she was responsible for national policy and provision for Performance Art and interdisciplinary practices at the Arts Council of Great Britain. She contributes articles on performance to a range of journals and publications and gives talks and presentations on performance at festivals, colleges, venues and conferences in Britain and internationally. She sits on a number of Boards and Advisory Panels, including Artsadmin (London) and Performa (New York).     ______________________

Learn more about the Misplaced Women? project and the artist Tanja Ostojić

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Seila Fernández Arconada created her Sketches of Distance on December 14 2016 by river Lee at the border of Hackney Wick and Stratford London, in the frame of “Misplaced Women?” performance workshop

In London, Workshops on March 7, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Seila Fernández Arconada created her Sketches of Distance on December 14, 2016 by river Lee at the border of Hackney Wick and Stratford London, in the frame of “Misplaced Women?” performance workshop in the public space lead by Tanja Ostojić, hosted by LADA.

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An sketch of distance I (51.544613 -0.022445) Durational performance 45 minutes       

An sketch of distance II  (51.542082, -0.020953) Durational performance 15 minutes

Those two performances were developed in response to the Misplaced Women? workshop led by Berlin based artist Tanja Ostojić. Both actions were presented as spontaneous performances in the public space in two “in between spaces”, a pedestrian bridge and the river Lee bank, both located between Hackney and the new developed Olympic Stadium Park area of Stratford London.

The workshop and this location became context of my actions. Asked to work with my belongings to “interrogate some of the realities of displacement such as travelling, identity, illegality, security, and the private/public”, I began to think of what my personal possessions are and what they mean to me as a migrant, as a woman, as an artist, etc.

In the last years, travelling became part of my working methodology that I consider and work with at many levels including environmental foot print, political and social borders. Belongings, both personal and professional, became a companion mostly connected to functionality. However, as time goes by there are some special items that hold memories and stories that I told in this performance.

The first item that I took out of my backpack was a compass. When this present was given to me in China 10 year ago, I was told: “Carry this compass with you and you will be able to find your home”. Since then I have been carrying this compass with me. The stories told connected to all those items are resonating experiences to the places where they come from; including a scarf given to me in Spain more than 15 years ago, a pair of handmade earrings I never wore that hold the story of an encounter in Medellín (Colombia), a booklet with drawings made with children in Peru, a T-Shirt bought in the central market of La Paz (Bolivia) that contains a conversation with the seller, among others.

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I placed all the items, one by one, around the compass to locate them in space, drawing a map out of stories while representing distance. 1.217km away from where I come from, about 2 days and 9 hours duration (Google Maps walking+ferry suggestion)

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Distance (Oxford Dictionary)   noun, BrE /ˈdɪstəns/

  • the amount of space between two places or things
  • being far away in space or in time
  • a point that is a particular amount of space away from something else
  • a difference or lack of a connection between two things
  • a situation in which there is a lack of friendly feelings or of a close relationship between two people or groups of people.

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Seila Fernández Arconada is an independent artist—researcher based in Bristol, UK. She is currently a Moore Institute Visiting Fellow (Ireland) with the project Moving while doing, nomadic artistic perceptions in socio-environmental transitory times. She is a collaborator at the “Art, Research and Feminism” research group (Spain). Recently selected by Gasworks London to join the residency “Migration, Identity and Belonging” (Mauritius). Seila has delivered numerous cross-disciplinary workshops and interventions including Communities Development in Post-Crisis Regions (Ukraine) and exhibited internationally, recently in Imagined Landscapes (RWA, UK), In Between Storage (Latvia) and ENCLAVE Land Art (Spain). Her work focuses in exploring artistic methodology, its boundaries and new social approaches.    www.seilafernandezarconada.net

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The text was written by Seila Fernández Arconada

The photographs were taken by Sophie Cullinan

Bojana Videkanić holding the “Misplaced Women?” sign on the Toronto Airport and diving into her profoundly touching memories about her initiation into the life of a refugee escaping Sarajevo siege in 1992

In Airports, Borders, Signs, Stories, Toronto on February 16, 2017 at 6:20 pm

On October 12 2016. Bojana Videkanić was holding the “Misplaced Women?” sign on the Pearson International Airport in Toronto and was diving into her profoundly touching memories about her initiation into the life of a refugee escaping Sarajevo siege in 1992 and her and her family life as refuges in the UK, Croatia and Canada. She wrote about it:

Missing Women: Some Thoughts As to Why I Became Missing While Waiting for Tanja Ostojić

By Bojana Videkanić October 2016-February 2017.

Last year I invited Tanja Ostojić to present her work at the 7a*11d International Performance Art Festival in Toronto. As one of the members of the Toronto Performance Art Collective, I have been wanting to invite Tanja to come to our festival for some time. She generously accepted and came in October 2016. In our conversations and planning prior to her arrival, Tanja asked me to help her by doing a specific action when she landed in Toronto. She asked me to create a sign and hold it while waiting for her at the Pearson International Airport. She told me that the sign should read: “Misplaced Women” which is also the title of Tanja’s piece that she was going to perform on October 16 at a tram stop downtown Toronto at the corner of McCaul and Dundas streets. Tanja gave me a choice to, if I wanted to, put a question mark at the end of the statement. I was happy to do the action and I made the sign, deciding to put a question mark at the end. My choice to do so was guided by the fact that Pearson is a large and busy place and I suspected that the sign will be noticed if I keep it ambiguous. I, however, was not considering the impact Tanja’s work would have on me.

The day came and I arrived 30 or so minutes earlier in order to keep the action a bit longer, to give it some time to play out. While standing there at the international arrivals gate, I had some time to think about the action I was performing (standing in the middle of the great airport hall with an ambiguous sign in my hands) and what its ramifications might be. There were a couple of important thoughts I had that came about as a result. First, throughout my action I realized that I was initiating Tanja’s performance, as it became obvious that my interactions with the accidental audiences were a catalyst for a discussion around borders, policing of bodies, and (in)visible violence of that. In short, I realized that Tanja’s performance has begun as people gawked at me. Secondly, I realized the echoes of Tanja’s work in our ‘local’ Canadian context with the missing and murdered indigenous women, and the impact it had in the light of Syrian crisis and the inability of the world actors to see the refugees as human beings. What I did not expect was my own physical reaction to the sign and the moment as I became missing in it.

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On October 12 2016, Bojana Videkanić holding the “Misplaced Women?” sign on the Pearson International Airport in Toronto and diving into her profoundly touching memories about her initiation into the life of a refugee escaping Sarajevo siege in 1992 and her and her family life as refuges in the UK, Croatia and Canada. Photo: Tanja Ostojić

It became obvious at that moment that the sign “Missing Women” was not about some other missing women (although of course it is about many thousands if not millions of them) but that it was also about my own experiences of borders and violence. It brought me back some 20+ years back to 1992, and my 15-year-old self, a confused, frightened child who, in a matter of few weeks between April 6 and April 20 1992, became a refugee. At the time I did not know what that meant, but I learned quickly. When my hometown of Sarajevo came under siege and the first grenades fell, my desperate, naïve parents wanted to save me, to protect me, so they found a way to put me on one of the last planes leaving the city to go to Belgrade and then on to London, England. I will never forget the scene of desperation at the Sarajevo Airport as hundreds and hundreds of people gathered to try to get their small children, parents and other family onto Kikash military plains. Pleading with important-looking military officers, with their long lists of people’s names, to let them through––crying, begging, consoling, desperate. Through some miracle my parents managed to get me on one of those lists and on one of the planes. They gave me a few of our family photos (so that I wound not forget them and where I come from), my mom lovingly packed my sinus medication and some clothes, and told me that I will be back at the end of the summer when the war will be over, and with my English much improved. And so I went, with my grey, Yugoslav child passport (which in fact was no longer valid as we were living through the breakup of the country), 500 deutsche marks, my photos, and a book. As Kikash plane lifted off (in fact this was my very first time being on the plane) I sat on the floor of its enormous belly with a couple of hundred other people not really knowing where I was going and what will happen to me when I get there. I was all alone, a child who never travelled without her parents, going to some unknown future.

Three days later I was on a plane ride to London, England with another boy, a son of my parents’ friends. The two of us were going to his aunt who accepted to take me in for the short period until I was to return home to Sarajevo. As the airplane approached Heathrow airport I became very anxious and scared. We landed and I was immediately detained by the UK customs and immigration. I was held in an interrogation room for six hours. I had to take all my clothes out of my bag, they took my family photos and asked me about each person in the photo and where they were, they asked me about my sinus medication, about how much clothes I had, and why I was travelling, do I know what is happening to my country? They even asked me about Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” the one book that I managed to take out of my parents’ library as I was leaving (the book I cannot bring myself to read again). It is hard to describe that feeling of being helpless, of being at the mercy of people in uniform, and especially being that way as a child. Like a caged animal my heart pounded, I was shaking, and I cried. I cried as all those things that the immigration officers looked through were really the last things that I could say were mine, these were the last remnants of my childhood, of my family life, and of my country, even those darn sinus pills… My entire life on display, my entire life in one suitcase, now an object of conversation for immigration officers, and evidence of my status.

Finally, I was let through, they decided that my friend’s aunt who waited for us was credible. This was my initiation into the life of a refugee. From that moment on, I moved with my suitcase from family to family, twice in London (during the 2 month stay there), and some ten times later on when I lived as a refugee in Croatia. At one point while still in London, I was supposed to be moved for the third time with an unknown woman, but when that did not work out the people with whom I was staying decided that I should be given over to the Child Services (as having a 15-year old in the house was too much for them). I couch-surfed most of the time, slept in peoples’ baby rooms next to their kids’ cribs, in their master bedrooms on the floor, in spare rooms, living rooms, all kinds of rooms. I learned to hold my pee in so that I would not have to be in the bathroom when owners of the house were in the house. I learned to take fast showers, I learned to eat when no one was looking (usually late at night). I learned how to walk without making a sound, how to use a hand towel, soap, shampoo, or kitchen utensils so that they would look like no one has used them. I learned to be sparing with creams, food, cookies so that it would not look like someone has eaten them. I learned to be invisible, how not to be noticed by police, by men, by security. I learned how to pack my bag quickly so that I can move out fast. I learned that refugees are not welcomed, that we are perceived as a burden, not just to the state and all its mechanisms, but often to extended families, friends, and even do-gooders who think that they can take in refugees into their home but cannot deal with someone actually living with them, taking their space.

I, however, also met some amazing people on the way, selfless, caring people like my mom’s friend who took me and my family in with her son for four months. Or like a doctor from the Doctors Without Borders who I met on the street and in our conversation I told him that my parents are doctors in Sarajevo and that I was not sure if they are dead or alive as all the phone lines were down and I did not speak to them in two months. He told me that he will find my parents as he was going back to Sarajevo and deliver my letter. And he did! (that was how my parents found out I was ok and alive).

Finally, I also learned that my parents were broken by the war, the strong, independent people I knew before April 1992 were now broken physically, mentally, and professionally. When both my parents came out of the besieged Sarajevo (my mom at the end of 1992, and my dad at the end of 1994) and when we lived as refugees in Croatia awaiting papers to immigrate to Canada or Australia, I saw my parents waiting in line for food donations, for refugee status, clothes, aid, they were lost and defeated, depressed. My dad has severe PTSD which was never dealt with. The defeat only continued when we came to Canada, when my parents had difficulty learning English, not being able to find a job, being too old to go to school (early-to mid 50s) but too young to retire, struggling; my father going to a local Food Bank getting food, working on construction site as a construction worker, my mom working with developmentally disabled adults and being attacked and bitten. Yes, standing there at the arrivals gate at Pearson Airport became an embodied performance of myself missing and my parents missing. I was that 15-year old kid again, trying to find myself.

Finally, another important thought I had at that moment of waiting for Tanja, as I had some confused looks from passersby, was that people could recognize the signs, they could recognize the ambiguity of what Tanja was stating. Several people stopped and asked what the sign was about. One man came around as asked where are these misplaced women? He was confused… I replied that it was a part of Tanja Ostojić’s art work relating it to refugees and migrant women, but also used the opportunity to address a more pressing Canadian context of Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and the current inquiry into this tragedy (https://www.nwac.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/

Fact_Sheet_Missing_and_Murdered_Aboriginal_Women_and_Girls.pdf). A female security guard came to me asking about the sign, she approached and said, ”You know you will get a lot of people asking about the sign,” “they will think you might have some answers for them…” Then she said, “you know, I am misplaced too…” These interactions with the security, passersby, people who wait for family and friends, and being at the airport, opened up a whole other conversation about invisibility of violence, of invisibility and visibility of women who are marginalized, who are placed at the mercy of governmental mechanisms, police, immigration, child welfare, welfare and unemployment services, ministry of Indigenous affairs, lawyers, immigration courts. It became clear then that this performance was placing an ethical and moral obligation on the passersby as it directly asked them to confront the question/statement on the sign I made for Tanja.

I write this as the Syrian refugees are fleeing their country just like I did 20+ years ago. I write this as Trump has barred people from entering US, I write this as frozen refugee claimants are crossing the US/Canada border at -40˚C, I write this as an official Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is just taking place 40+ years in, I write this as hundreds of unaccompanied minor children are prevented from entering UK (as the government stopped its program to help them,) I write this as women and children are still going missing––no questions asked… Tanja Ostojic’s performance which asks that question is therefore more important then ever. Standing in the crowd with a sign “Missing Women?” at this moment becomes an ethical and moral confrontation, one that troubles the age of invisibility. And at a time of alternative truths, the truth of those who are marginalized truth is the one that matters, and only one that cannot be erased in the swamp we call the Internet.

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Bojana Videkanić is an artist, art historian and curator. Originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, who came to Canada as a refugee. Videkanić now lives in Canada where she teaches at the University of Waterloo and is a member of the curatorial board of the 7a*11d International Performance Art Festival.  7a*11d festival, now in its 20th year, is one of the oldest and largest performance art festivals in Canada. The 7a*11d collective gathers over 20 international and national artists for each of its biannual festivals that takes place in the fall in Toronto: http://7a-11d.ca/  #7a11d2016

Please see as well:

https://misplacedwomen.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/misplaced-women-performed-by-tanja-ostojic-dedicated-to-the-missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women-in-canada-sunday-october-16-in-front-of-the-art-gallery-of-ontario-7a11d-2016-toronto-can/

https://misplacedwomen.wordpress.com/2016/10/14/misplaced-women-sign-on-pearson-international-airport-in-toronto/

Teresa Albor´s performances, The Yard Theatre, Hackney Wick and Westfield Shopping Mall, Stratford London, December 13 and 14, 2016. in the frame of Tanja Ostojić´s “Misplaced Women?” in LADA

In Borders, London, Performances, Shopping Center, Stories, Workshops on February 12, 2017 at 3:31 pm

In the frame of Tanja Ostojić´s “Misplaced Women?” workshop hosted by Live Arts Development Agency London and Elena Marchevska, Teresa Albor realised a series of two very strong performances on displacement:

December 13, 2016, The Yard Theatre, Hackney Wick, 2-4pm

December 14, 2016, Westfield Shopping Mall, near Olympic Park, Stratford, 1:45-2pm

On December 16, 2016 she wrote the following related statement:

Packing up the large objects this morning, the bright orange life jacket (child size), the beaded scarf, the soft black little girl’s jacket.  The smell— part smoke, part sweat, musty, human.  Then the small objects—into the orange envelopes and then the zip lock bag, the bits and pieces of jewelry, including the fragile, fragile necklace, all tangled up, hopelessly tangled up.

I imagine,the women who are preparing to be evacuated from Aleppo this morning.  They are packing up what little they can bring.  Little girls (perhaps oblivious), teenage girls (dreaming of a future?), mothers (thinking of their children’s needs).

Clio looks good in red so I have bought her a red dress.  Libby wants a particular book for her medical studies.  I put the red dress in a black box and tie a red ribbon around it.  I wrap the book in silver paper.

Someone else, once carefully packed the things I brought to Hackney Wick. All these objects once belonged to others, who took risks, who are hopefully somewhere where they feel safe, where they can dream, love, argue, fall out of love, make plans for the holidays.

The mall is busy.  People are trying to find things to give to others.  To make them smile, to show somehow—as impossible as it might be—how much they love them.

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Please see Teresa Albor´s video of her performance in front of The Yard Theatre, Hackney Wick, London

The necklace is hopelessly tangled.  I spend a good hour trying to ease the knots out.  First I try to soften the snarl, gently easing the tiny chain into a loose little heap.  Then I try to find the ends and see how long a length of chain is possible.  But this makes the knot in the middle grow tighter and tighter.  My fingers are numb from the cold, with little dents where I have been holding the chain.  It seems maddeningly simple.  I picture the untangled chain.  I picture it hanging around the neck of a woman.  She is smiling.

Tosha needs someone to babysit.  It’s not easy being a single mother.  She says it’s hard for her, now that she has a son, to watch the news, to see woman and children, the bombardment, their desperate flight.

I feel vulnerable sitting on the cement paving stone outside the Omega watch store.  Someone else has the power.  A man with a vest that says “security”.  Calling out names: Amena, Yana, Ola, Liliane, Nour, Kamar, Lamma Dayoub, Qamar, Haya, Zeinah, Aya, Nooda, Ranim, Reem, Asil. Please be safe.  What is the worst that can happen to me?  What is the best thing that can happen to you?

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Teresa Albor performing in Westfield Shopping Mall, London, (December 14, 2016. 1:45-2pm) Photo: Tanja Ostojić

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Teresa Albor performing in Westfield Shopping Mall, London, (December 14, 2016. 1:45-2pm) Photo: Tanja Ostojić

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Footnote: Clio, Libby and Tosha are Teresa´s daughters.

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Things I learned in the workshop:

The advantages of being our own audience: Working together, watching each other, making work for each other to see, acting as a magnet in public spaces to draw others in, acting as a protective shield when there’s some question about our “right” to make work in public.  Being open to each other.  Allowing everyone to be at a different point in his or her process. Observing each other and learning from each other.

Explaining to security: The art of just describing what is actually happening. “I am looking for something.”  “She is wrapping a present.”  The power (see above) of being able to focus on an action whilst someone else does the explaining.

Gut feeling + props:  The need to allow your gut feeling to direct you, to give you ideas.  To have the props but then let the action evolve.  But to still be able to edit one’s self, and question one’s ideas, and not to incorporate every single idea.  I have so many ideas.

Also, I wanted to say how much this workshop meant to me. This was a new way for me to work with these objects– the second piece, a way to put myself into the work, to make myself a bit vulnerable. It has given me plenty to think about. Once again, thanks to Tanja Ostojic for her warmth, patience, openness– for making us all feel so safe, and so encouraged as artists.

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Teresa Albor is London based performance and visual artist interested in how different groups of people negotiate the world. Her work is research-based and often involves broad collaboration. It can involve video/moving image, performance, installation, publication, community-based workshops, and forms of artist-led curation.

www.TeresaAlbor.com

www.TheThingsWeLeaveBehind.co.uk

www.Paradox-of-Order.com

www.Rufus-Stone.org

Photos: Tanja Ostojic

Video: Teresa Albor

Elena Marchevska holding the “Misplaced Women?” Sign at Heathrow Airport London, December 12, 2016.

In Airports, London, Signs, Stories on February 11, 2017 at 5:39 pm

Hospitality in times of displacement

It is a cold, grey December morning and I am on my way to pick up Tanja Ostojić from Heathrow airport. I am traveling on the Piccadilly line, half empty carriage, thinking about London and me. It wasn’t love at first sight, that is for sure. The first time I visited London was in 2005, just one week before 7/7, to do a performance as part of the exhibition Insomnia, an exhibition about experience of refugees and displaced individuals. It was a hot July week, the streets were filthy. Everywhere was incredibly busy and I felt that the city was a bit too much for me… I left relieved to be off to tour a show in rural France for three months and didn’t really think about coming back.

However, here I am, 12 years later, in London, again looking at displacement, at stories of migration and misplacement. This is a very critical and important moment for the UK, Europe and the world. Six months have passed since the Brexit vote, Trump has been elected as president of the USA and the world is a very hostile, inhospitable place for people on the move. Heathrow is flashy, clean, perfect, a haven for shoppers and travellers. I feel profoundly misplaced, leaning on the metal rail between taxi drivers and company chauffeurs, holding a handmade sign saying ‘Misplaced Women?’. Not a personal name on my sign, not a company logo, just a question. Do I wait for someone to come, or do I wait for my situation to be resolved?

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Elena Marchevska holding the “Misplaced Women?” sign at Heathrow Airport London, December 12, 2016. Photo: Tanja Ostojc

When I was developing the concept for my residency with Live Art Development Agency, my thoughts were constantly with the people in flux, those who were crossing or waiting at borders for days, sometimes months. Vivid memories of my childhood in war-torn Yugoslavia emerged. I remembered my school friends who were refugees from Sarajevo; my work in refugee camps during the Kosovo crisis; the lines for bread and milk; cars left without petrol in the middle of the road. More than 20 years has passed, but my body clearly remembers the fear, and at the same time the braveness, the openness to share, to give, to be there for one another. Many people opened their homes to refugees and family displaced due to war, despite being impoverished and affected by the war themselves.

It is important to discuss displacement along hospitality. Derrida introduces hospitality as a radical concept that offers alternative ways to treat others. His central argument is based on the ‘aporia of hospitality’, which, according to Derrida, has two main elements: one of owning and being empowered by that ownership, and another of giving ownership away and being vulnerable. I thought that it would be an important part of my research and creative journey to host an artist, someone with a similar history to myself, and to open a creative dialogue about hospitality and displacement. Tanja Ostojic’s project ‘Misplaced Women?’ was a natural choice.

The project works with the Derrida’s aporia. Tanja hosts a safe space that allows her workshop participants to open up and share their experiences. It also requires that they present their ideas immediately, by performing them in a public space. This brings us back to Derrida’s discussion of the etymology of the term ‘hospitality’, which is related to hostility, since the root hospes is allied to the root hostis, which interestingly means both ‘stranger’ and ‘enemy’. Thus, hospitality, as in hostilis (stranger/enemy) + potes (having power), originally meant the power that the host has over the stranger/enemy. And indeed we see the hospitality of Western European societies being defined by imposing power over the ‘strangers’, defining them by impossible standards, borders are re-erected, walls are rebuild, communities are ostracised.

According to Irina Arishtarkova, hospitality is a radical relation, especially when compared with tolerance: it provides a framework to account for the treatment of others with limitless attention and expectation, and it entails an active gesture of welcoming, greeting, sheltering, and in many cases, nourishing. Tanja Ostojić operates within this framework, opening a hospitable space during her performance workshops.  Participants are welcomed and guided, acknowledged and their ideas are nourished. Anecdotes are shared, objects are transformed, pictures are circulated. During the two days of the workshop, I felt that we tapped into each other’s experiences of displacement and loss. Hospitality became performative, it was about slow decision making, about the labour of hosting others, and the handling of unexpected outcomes. There was a willingness to contain and to produce space for the Other out of one’s own flesh and blood, we all walked together by the canal, performers and audience at the same time. The days melted into one long discussion about what displacement means today. For me, the small acts of hope and care that each participant made created a ripple strong enough to go beyond the current climate of hostility.

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Bibliography:

ARISTARKHOVA, I. (2012). Hospitality of the matrix: philosophy, biomedicine, and culture. New York, Columbia University Press.

DERRIDA, J., & DUFOURMANTELLE, A. (2000). Of hospitality. Stanford, Calif, Stanford University Press.

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Elana Marchevska is London Based Artist and educator of Macedonian origin.

http://www.thisisliveart.co.uk/opportunities/open-call-for-participants-for-misplaced-women-workshop

http://www.thisisliveart.co.uk/whats-on/misplaced-women/

Misplaced Women? Sign at Vilnius International Airport, Lithuania, November 4, 2016.

In Airports, Signs, Vilnius on February 11, 2017 at 4:48 pm

I landed to the International Airport, Lithuania, from Graz, with a connecting flight in Vienna, for the Unthinkable Nomos conference http://unthinkable.site  that took place at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius from November 5 to 6, 2016. I was welcomed with a beautiful Misplaced Women? banner produced by Monika Janulevičiūtė, young Lithuanian designer herself. For the Misplaced Women? project blog she wrote the following:

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Monika Janulevičiūtė holding the “Misplaced Women?” Sign at Vilnius International Airport, Lithuania, November 4, 2016. Photo: Tanja Ostojić

12:52 Violently digging down into my bag. It has dark lining and no compartments. Rarely ever easy find things there; everything fits, though. Remembering the order or the sides of putting the thing in sometimes help — I finally reach for the zip lock bag with the folded flag. I assume it should be time. A short glimpse at the phone screen. I nod to my friend P. and I jump out of his car, parked in front of the exit of the Arrival Hall.

12:53 The Arrival Hall felt hollow, and November winds got into it quickly making no difference from outside. One couldn’t say if people already left the flight BT5132 or they just waited for baggage. An older man on the left, a younger one nervously rushes through, some calls and the echo of announcements. I spread the piece of fabric of a trench coat before me, rustling, soft to the touch, almost sticky.

A nude flag in the middle of the cube-like hall with its gypsum panelled ceiling separated by wire mesh, trapping pigeons and one helium balloon in mid-air. Unfolding it felt like making a bed or preparing to camp against the grey stone making a solid fundament for the white Corinthian columns and moulded balconies. I think I never stood behind a banner. T-shirts with statements don’t count.

12:55 I’m on time and at the right place but while holding a flag with big Misplaced Women? and become hesitant to state such clear comment on my position. I feel like a translation, or a sign behind one unwillingly shows their skills and habits of holding a life together, covered by rigid canvases, few zippers or belts here and there. The alternative ways of wrapping the unwanted gift of the outrage. Here the temperature drops by one degree Celsius for each memory carried in. The supervision uncloaks her machinery of vigilance. A barren and gated life, flash floods, landslides, fluctuations of the foreign currency exchange values. It hatches whole new sets of catastrophes, not by just a mere proposal of such actualities, but they are cases formulated and born in the accounts with detailed financial expenditures. One can easily measure the ripeness by the amount of industrial rubber or splatter on jet-fuel engines. It will taste like being kicked in the stomach.

Misplaced Women? sign on Pearson International Airport in Toronto

In Airports, Toronto on October 14, 2016 at 10:36 pm

On October 12, 2016. Bojana Videkanić was holding the “Misplaced Women?” sign on the Pearson International Airport in Toronto. She wrote about it:

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Photo: Tanja Ostojic

 

Tanja Ostojić has asked me to create a sign and hold it while waiting for her at the Pearson International Airport in Toronto. The sign read: “Misplaced Women?” which is also the title of Tanja’s piece that she will perform on Sunday October 16 at 2pm at tram stop downtown Toronto (corner of McCaul and Dunda streets) in front of the Art Gallery of Ontario, as part of the 7a*11d Festival in Toronto.

While standing there at the arrivals ramp at the airport, I quickly realized that in fact Tanja’s performance has already begun as people stared at the sign I was holding up. I had some confused looks from passersby. Several people stopped and asked what the sign was about. One man came around as asked where are these misplaced women? He was confused? I replied that it was a part of Tanja Ostojić’s art work relating it to refugees and migrant women.

A female security guard came to me asking about the sign, she approached and said:

— ”You know you will get a lot of people asking about the sign. They will think you might have some answers for them…” Then she said “you know, I am misplaced too”.

I explained what the project was about and she was quite enthusiastic about what it was, and said she will look up Tanja’s work.

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Further Misplaced Women? Toronto Program:

Tanja Ostojić’s artist talk as part of the panel on Migration, with Selma Selman, moderated by Bojana Videkanić, Saturday, October 15 at 12:30h at OCAD U RM 284, Toronto Canada.

Tanja Ostojić, “Misplaced Women?” performance, Sunday October16 at 2 pm at tram stop downtown Toronto in front of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto Canada.

Tanja Ostojić´s artist talk, Monday, Oct 17, at 6:30pm, University of Buffalo, 202 Center for the Arts, Amherst, NY 14260-6000, United States,

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Photo: Bojana Videkanic

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Bojana Videkanić is an artist, art historian and curator. Originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, who came to Canada as a refugee. Videkanić now lives in Canada where she teaches at the University of Waterloo and is a member of the curatorial board of the 7a*11d International Performance Art Festival.  7a*11d festival, now in its 20th year, is one of the oldest and largest performance art festivals in Canada. The 7a*11d collective gathers over 20 international and national artists for each of its biannual festivals that takes place in the fall in Toronto: http://7a-11d.ca/

#7a11d2016

Open Call for participants for Misplaced Women? performance workshop with Tanja Ostojić in London UK, December 13-14, 2016 hosted by Live Art Development Agency

In London, News, Workshops on October 14, 2016 at 3:05 pm

This Open Call for participants of Misplaced Women? performance workshop with Tanja Ostojić in London UK, December 13-14, 2016 hosted by Live Art Development Agency:

Participants of all backgrounds and levels of experience are welcome, but we particularly encourage those who are interested in issues of migration, representations of gender and art in the public realm.

The workshop is free and tea/coffee and lunch will be provided. We are able to contribute to travel costs for participants who are based outside London. The deadline for applications is Friday 4 November.

Outcomes will be presented to the public at the end of the second day of the workshop at the Live Art Development Agency and included on the Misplaced Women? project website.

Please reed about the project and see more application relevant details at the following link:

http://www.thisisliveart.co.uk/opportunities/open-call-for-participants-for-misplaced-women-workshop

Good luck and looking forward to collaborate with you in London!

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Marija Jevtić, Tanja Ostojić, Sunčica Šido and Nela Antonović performing Misplaced Women? inside the Info Park, Central Bus station Belgrade, Serbia, as one of the group performances in public spaces in Belgrade, conducted on October 29, 2015, during Misplaced Woman? workshop with Tanja Ostojić, thematising solidarity with the refuges on the Balkan route. Organised as a part of the From Diaspora to Diversity, Remont, Belgrade, Serbia. Photo: Lidija Antonović.

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