MisplacedWomen?

Posts Tagged ‘Misplaced Women Sign’

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?

p1150891small

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.

_____________

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.

_____________

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/

Advertisements

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:

p1150714small

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 at Graz Airport, Styria Austria, November 2 2016.

In Airports, Graz, Signs on February 11, 2017 at 2:50 pm
p1050199small

Edith Risse holding the “Misplaced Women?” Sign at Graz Airport, Styria Austria, November 2, 2016. Photo: Jogi Hofmüller

I landed to Graz around 2.20pm on November 2 2016 with direct Airberlin flight from Berlin Tegel in order to take part in the symposium: MENSCHENRECHTE wörtlich nehmen / HUMAN RIGHTS literally today, that was taking place from November 3 to 4, 2016 at Volksgartenpavillon, Graz: http://mrwn.at

The kind welcoming comity consisted of two of the organisers of the conference including Edith Risse and Jogi Hofmüller. As I kindly asked her, Edith Risse was holding the sign. And so we immediately smiled to each other as the result of recognition.

Jogi Hofmüller noted down for me his observations as well:

As a bystander to the action I can say that to my great surprise the majority of the people passing by seemed not to notice Edith standing there and holding the sign saying “Misplaced Women?”. But then again, Graz airport is not a very crowded place, so over all I guess there were not more than 20 people in the airport while we were standing there. 

Once people arriving with you on the plane started to pass through customs the situation changed slightly. The newly arrived ones of course were looking around, in search of taxis, people that came to pick them up or just to orient themselves. Still, I cannot recall anything special regarding reactions to the sign. I just remember seeing you pass this gate and once you saw the sign your face burst into a big smile 🙂

p1150699

Edith Risse holding the Misplaced Women? Sign at Graz Airport, Styria Austria, November 2 2016. Photo: Tanja Ostojic

____________________________________________

Edith Risse is a free lance curator and cultural producer based in Graz. Since 2013 she is a head of the Arts & Culture working group of the parliament of land Styria.

Jogi Hofmüller is media artist based in Graz. He is co-founder of Radio Helsinki and mur.at. Member of 42. Running Plagiat and institut hofos together with Reni Hofmüller.

p1150697

Edith Risse and Jogi Hofmüller, Misplaced Women? Sign at Graz Airport. Photo: Tanja Ostojic

%d bloggers like this: