MisplacedWomen?

Posts Tagged ‘Misplaced Women?’

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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Shannon Mulvey unpacked her bag on December 14 2016 by the oak tree on the River Lee at the border of Hackney Wick and Stratford London..

In London, Stories, Workshops on February 13, 2017 at 10:06 pm

Shannon Mulvey unpacked her bag on December 14, 2016 by the oak tree on the 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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Shannon Mulvey unpacked her bag on December 14, 2016 by the oak tree on the 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 Ostojic

While discussing the experiences and issues of displacement of our workshop collective, I began to remember a story that my mother had told me of my grandparents’ assimilation into British culture and their experience of xenophobia. My grandparents on both sides immigrated from Ireland at the age of 16. Reflecting upon my 16 year old self, I could not have even conceived leaving home never mind immigrating. Yet all of my grandparents left their small villages in rural south west Ireland to seek a better life across the water in the UK. Shortly after arriving in the UK they were welcomed by signage clearly stating “no blacks, no Irish, no dogs” on nearly every tenement building and work place. With opportunities lacking, it was desperate times but my grandmother managed to find a small room in which she and her husband could stay. The only rule was no children. Hiding her pregnant stomach, Eileen accepted the room and continued to keep her now heavily pregnant stomach under wraps. A few months later, my uncle Michael was born. However, Michael was fully deaf and suffered from colic which caused him to scream loudly with the pain of the infection.

Trying desperately to protect her livelihood and save her family from being thrown out onto the streets of London mid-winter, Eileen tried desperately to calm her distressed child.

It was no time before the land lady; who was also Irish but had immigrated years before, found out about the child and threw the family out onto the streets.

Although Eileen and Paddy felt abandoned and alone in a new country, they knew they could always rely on the help of one thing- the generosity of the Irish community who had immigrated alongside them and become kind hearted friends throughout the process. A friend they had met on the boat over offered them a place to stay and soon they began to settle back into London life.

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Shannon Mulvey unpacked her bag on December 14, 2016 by the oak tree on the 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 Ostojic

It saddens me that this story was reminded to me by the shared stories of xenophobia and mistreatment of immigrants discussed within our “Misplaced Women?” workshop. It is documented that the recent rise of racist attacks occurring within the UK took place immediately following the UK’s Brexit vote determining the country’s’ decision to leave the EU. I think it is a vital point in history in which to take action and challenge this racist rhetoric that is being promoted and to take pride in our mission as artists to make work that recognises and resists racist prejudice.

As a theatre maker, it was a truly enriching experience to be able to work collaboratively with such talented artists and to be inspired and informed by their vast and varied processes and modes of thinking and creating; which is a pedagogy I have not encountered thus far in my training as a performer. It was absolutely wonderful working with Tanja Ostojić.

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Shannon Mulvey has been trained on the American Theatre Arts course at Rose Bruford drama school. Whilst studying she spent an exchange semester in Chicago where she worked professionally with the avant-garde, experimental theatre company Trapdoor Theatre. After graduating in June 2016 and receiving a first class degree, she founded the theatre company Sisters of Eden, a feminist performance collective that makes work that challenges patriarchal, hetero-normative ideologies and celebrates the female form.

Check them out on:

Twitter &Instagram: @Sistersof3den

Facebook: Sisters of Eden

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? performed by Tanja Ostojić, dedicated to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada. Sunday October 16, in front of the Art Gallery of Ontario, 7a*11d 2016, Toronto, Canada

In Performances, Stories, Toronto, Tram station on December 15, 2016 at 11:58 am

Tanja Ostojić

Misplaced Women?

Written by: Michelle Lacombe

When I arrive at Dundas and McCaul Street, a public has already gathered, creating semi circle around a woman who is holding a sign on which “MISPLACED WOMEN?” is hand-written. She is casual and seems to be waiting for something to happen. The public waits with her.

Meanwhile, I scan the area looking for Tanja Ostojić. I have have met her and so I know that she is not the woman holding the sign. I find her sitting in a nearby bus stop. She looks straight ahead, also waiting. She shares her shelter with a shopping cart filled with carefully stacked reusable shopping bags, a medium-sized suitcase and a half-empty bottle of coke. She blends into the site seamlessly and so I try not to call attention to her presence. I take my place in the crowd.

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Eventually Ostojić exits the glass cubicle, rolling suitcase behind her, and positions herself between us and “MISPLACED WOMEN?”. She removes her shawl and, rather brusquely, begins to empty her pockets, then her bag, then the bags contained in her bag until all of the contents, reduced to their smallest parts, litter the ground. She then shifts her attention to the suitcase. Clothes, after being inverted and having pockets and seams searched, are thrown onto her back. Anything else is pulled apart and added to the pile on the ground. She is looking for something, thoroughly searching in even the tiniest spaces.

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With Eszter Jagica holding the Misplaced Women? sign

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The last item she removes is a large black garbage bag and her motions slow down. She explores this object more curiously that the rest, eventually stepping into it, crouching and pulling it over her body. It fits. She then steps into the suitcase. Her body, in the garbage bag, again fits. She pulls the suitcase flap closed. She squirms, reaches out an arm and struggles to close the zipper. An audience member steps in to help. Seemingly concerned, an elderly man hovers around while Ostojić is stuffed in her suitcase, which is now clearly a tomb. I notice her body relax.

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42._y.jpgTo me, this part of the action, a pause of sorts, is the most evocative, striking and difficult moment in the work. As black plastic gently rustles over Ostojić’s contorted limbs, I think about the people whose bodies are found like this, in suitcases and in garbage bags: Guang Hua liu, Melonie Biddersingh, Lin Jun, Tina Fontaine, and countless others who I am sure exist, but who I either can’t recall or do not know about. Most of these bodies are women, most of these women are Indigenous or racially marginalized. Sadly, what we are being presented with is a horror that is easy to imagine. It is familiar and right in front of us.

Eventually Ostojić emerges, lights a cigarette and smokes it. In solidarity, she has just embodied something and sits upright in the open suitcase to visibly reflect on it. She then slowly returns order to the pile of scattered items.

91.y.jpgAs Ostojić repacks her things, a woman who has clearly just finished her shopping, arms full and ear buds in, walks over and hands her a fresh plastic bag. This simple public intervention sticks with me and I feel like an asshole when I realize how we must appear to those who do not register this as a performance. Quick to help her get into her tomb, we are now collectively distant as Ostojić works to recover and move on, back to her glass shelter. This woman however, tried to help.

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Source: http://7a-11d.ca/tanja-ostojic/

Photos: Henry Chan

“MISPLACED WOMEN?” installation is on exhibit at the Feminism Is Politics! exhibition curated by Olga Kopenkina, in Pratt Manhattan Gallery, New York, September 28–November 23, 2016.

In New York, News on September 30, 2016 at 10:20 pm
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Misplaced Women? installation view at  Feminism Is Politics!, Pratt Manhattan Gallery, New York. Photo: Tanja Ostojić

“MISPLACED WOMEN?”  

Performance series 2009–2016 / Project’s Archive, mixed media installation include:

 “Misplaced Women?” Performance by Tanja Ostojić
1-channel digital video, 28:16min, 2016
Video recording of the performance in Göteborg International Airport, Sweden.
September 2, 2015. Live Action 10

Tanja Ostojić / Marta Nitecka Barche: “Misplaced Women?”
Banner 49,5 X 181,5 cm, 2016, Canvas, marker, embroidery

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21 photographs from the following performances:
1) Performance by Hyla Willis. Central train station Zagreb, Croatia, June, 25, 2009, during the PSi conference Zagreb. Photo: subRosa.
2) Delegated performance by Valentina Medda , during festival Performa. White Box, New York City. November 21, 2009, 5 pm, New York time.
3) Performance by Tanja Ostojić, November 21, 2009, 11 pm Berlin time (5pm New York time, simultaneously with Valentina Medda), at the Tegel airport Berlin, Germany. Photos: DNK.
4) “Misplace Women?” sign held by Wai Wai at the arrival section, Zürich International Airport, Switzerland, October 25, 2012. Photo: Tanja Ostojić.
5) ”Misplace Women?” sign held by Amy Bryzgel, on Aberdeen International Airport, Scotland, March 31, 2015. Photo: Tanja Ostojić.
6) “Misplaced Women? Marking the City.” Performance by Kwestan Jamal Bawan at Western Union, Bergen, Norway, November 2, 2011 at 12:55.pm. Organised by Stiftelsen 3,14. Photo: Mariel Lødum.
7) Performance by Tanja Ostojić on the Bergen International Airport. November 8, 2011. Production: Stiftelsen 3,14, Bergen, Norway. Photos: Jannicke Olsen.
8) Performance by Sigrid Pawelke, (during the “Missplaced Women?” workshop conducted by Tanja Ostojić). Shopping district, Aix-en-Provence, France, December 16, 2015. Photos: Tanja Ostojić.
9) Performance by Anaïs Clercx, at Préfecture d’Aix-en-Provence / Police headquarters, City of Aix-en-Provence, France, during the “Missplaced Women?” workshop with Tanja Ostojić. December 16, 2015. Photo: Tanja Ostojić.
10) Performance by Ashley McNaughton on Torry bridge, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, during the “Misplaced Woman?” workshop with Tanja Ostojić in Torry neighbourhood, organised as a part of the Aberdeen Festival of Politics 2016. March 10, 2016. Photo: Renée Slater.
11) Performances by Kirsty Russell and Marta Nitecka Barche in front of the public library in Torry, as a part of “Misplaced Woman?” workshop with Tanja Ostojić during the Aberdeen Festival of Politics 2016. March 10, 2016. Other participants: Amy Bryzgel, Caroline Gausden, Sarah Jackson, Karolina Kubik, Angela Margaret Main, Ashley McNaughton, Marta Nitecka Barche, Tanja Ostojić, Kirsty Russell, Francesco Sani, Renée Slater, Gabriel Tracy, Rowan Young and many other amassing people. Photo: Renée Slater.
Performance by Tanja Ostojić on the La Grand Escalier de la Gare du 12) Saint Charles / railway station, Marseille, France 2013. Participants: Helen Averley, Alix Denambride, Robyn Hambrook, Tanja Ostojić, Kim Mc Cafferty, Jane Kay Park, Emma Edvige Ungaro and Patricia Verity. Production: Préavis de Désordre Urbain and Red Plexus, Marselle. Photos: Anne Carles.
13) Performance by Tanja Ostojić, Göteborg city center tram station, Sweden, September 4, 2015. Production: Live Action 10, Photo: Xiao Lu.
14) Marija Jevtić, Tanja Ostojić, Suncica 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. Participants: Nela Antonović, Gorana Bačevac, Tatjana Beljinac, Tamara Bijelić, Jelena Dinić, Irena Đukanović, Milica Janković, Marija Jevtić, Nadežda Kirćanski, Irena Mirković, Bojana Radenović, Sanja Solunac, Sunčica Šido. Photo: Lidija Antonović.
15) Performance by Tanja Ostojić on the Central bus station in Varaždin, Croatia, Jun 11, 2016. Production: Dani performansa, Varaždin, Croatia. Photo: Vedran Hunjek.

Written stories by:
Helen Averley, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Marta Nitecka Barche, Aberdeen, Scotland
Anaïs Clercx, Marseille, France
Mmakgosi Kgabi, Gaborone, Botswana
Tanja Ostojić, Berlin, Germany
Sigrid Pawelke, Aix-en-Provence, France
Jasmina Tešanović, women without homeland, who lives and works on-line.

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I am pleased that our installation has been set up so well and I am grateful to all the participants for all your generous contributions to the project!!! – Tanja Ostojić

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Feminism Is Politics! is an inquiry into what is conceptualized by feminists and queer/lesbians in the 21st century as New Feminism. The exhibition features video, performance works and art activism that address the feminist position in action and redefine the notion of “political” within the new millennium’s paradigm of uncertainty and precarity.

Artists included: 

Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz
Bureau of Melodramatic Research
Melanie Cervantes
Regina José Galindo
Gluklya (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya)
Victoria Lomasko
Liza Morozova
Mujeres Públicas
Tanja Ostojić
YES! Association / Föreningen JA!
Anna Zvyagintseva

More about the exhibition: https://www.pratt.edu/events/exhibitions/pratt-manhattan-gallery/

Sigrid Pawelke´s Statement

In Aix-en-Provence, Shopping Center, Stories, Workshops on September 25, 2016 at 3:32 pm

Sigrid Pawelke´s statement regarding her powerful performance contribution to the Misplaced Women? (performance workshop conducted by Tanja Ostojić) in front of the Sephora beauty shop, shopping district of the City of Aix-en-Provence, December 16, 2016.

The context:

In a city like Aix-en Provence, one of the most culturally and economically rich in France where its native sons Cezanne and Victor Hugo help to guarantee an extremely profitable tourism industry to this day, the city politics reinforce this anachronism of the 19th century as contemporary combined with the “culture of appearance”.

The expansion of the old city in the last several years provided even more space for the monoculture of appearance, with the opening of one multinational clothing shop after another – a paradise of consumerism.

In September 2016 at the height of the refugee crises in Europe, the right wing mayor declared that the city of Aix had already welcomed enough refugees and would not take any more.

But what refugees does this mayor mean? The ones who voted for her like the “pieds-noirs”, the French-Algerians, almost a million of whom came to the region after the French-Algerian war in the early 1960’s? Or the Italians, Spaniards, Corsicans and Polish who arrived throughout the 20th century, and let’s not forget the “Gypsies”,  the Roma people.

Due to this context I launched a symposium “migrations – strategies of creation” at the School of Visual Arts in Aix and invited Tanja Ostojić to come speak and hold a performance workshop.

In the frame of her “Misplaced Women?” performance workshop I chose to do my performance right in front of the Sephora beauty shop, which stands for the monoculture of stereotyped female consumers and the high pollutive nature of cosmetics waste worldwide.

This “interspace” between the shop and the public space out on the street is very interesting – where does the private-public space of the shop end and where does the public space of the pedestrian alley begin? French law provides three principles for the use of public space: “Liberté, égalité, gratuité” (Liberty, equality, freedom-as in ‘take this [item] for free’)

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There are laws governing these spaces and the interpretation of the laws by the person who is paid to watch and ensure safety, i.e. the modern day private security guard.

So I started to install myself right in this in-between space to challenge the security guard as well as the passersby and the customers of the beauty shop.

I arrived with a backpack filled with plastic bags and a few other belongings, wearing rather casual, well-worn street clothes.

The minute I started, I put on my “invisible” performance protection wall around me in order to pursue the task of “putting everything inside out”.

Then I began to empty all my bags: there were maybe five or six creating a scene of the so called “bag lady” and people were starting to wonder what I was doing or searching for, including the security guard who appeared hesitant to come over or ask himself whether or not what I was doing was legal, being so close to the shop? Maybe because I am a woman he held himself back so as not to interfere too much in my business in the beginning.

Next I pulled off everything I was holding inside my clothes, out of my jacket and pans pockets. In the end I took off my shoes. So I stood there in the middle of December without shoes or jacket. That was the point when the security guard came up to ask me:

“What are you doing?”

“I am just searching for something,” I answered.

“Hurry up because people are already watching. And move further away from the shop!”

The rest of the people, passersby and customers partially tried to ignore me, since that is the usual behaviour of people who do not want to get involved, neither mentally nor physically.

Under the staring eyes of the security guard I just kept slowly continuing my performance, showing no sign of inhibition due to the treatment of the security guard until everything was packed up again and then I walked away.

 

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The most striking part for me was the feeling of being an object of disturbance to someone, while at the same time being almost totally invisible to the rest, as if I didn’t exist.

However, I am a white European so visually I did not stick out of the crowd and my outfit was still “bearable” in regards to standard conventions.

So there I was, feeling what I call a double burden as a female of otherness, but yet being legal as a European in France. It was only due to my appearance that I was safe as I have been so many other times in my life at border crossings or immigration desks. Whereas both sides of my family were refugees after fleeing the Soviet army when Stalin reshaped Europe at the end of World War II. Thanks to the women in my family many of my kin survived and resettled. Women are the first victims in those situations, but on the other hand once they manage to survive they have an incredible endurance and capacity to adapt.

But to come back to 2016 in order to understand a glimpse of the female migration situation you must experience at least for a moment physically and psychologically their condition. That’s where the profound strength lies in Tanja Ostojić’s performance proposals.

And now just imagine being illegal with signs of apparent “otherness” as a female in front of a private security guard in the same context….

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Sigrid Pawelke, is professor of art history at the School of Visual Arts at Aix-en-Provence, France, researcher and performer.

Photos: Tanja Ostojić

FNAC, Aix-en-Provence, France, December 16, 2015

In Aix-en-Provence, Performances, Shopping Center, Stories, Workshops on February 23, 2016 at 9:33 pm

“Misplaced Man?” Performed by Anastasio  William at FNAC, in the shopping district of  Aix-en-Provence, France on December 16, 2015, in the frame of “Missplaced Women?” workshop conducted by Tanja Ostojic, on performance art, migration, public space and surveillance, with participation of students and teachers of the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Aix-en-Provence, France.

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Anastasio  William (student, École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts d´Aix):

“The performance experience I had, in the frame of Tanja Ostojic´s workshop at the art school and in public spaces of Aix-en-Provence, was very exciting and fulfilling. However, it’s more complicated than it seems, to unpack all of your stuff in front of a crowd of unknown people…

It reminded me of the interactions I already had before with airport security agents. Waiting for their judgment…, telling you what’s good or bad…, staring at you with cold serious eyes… Anxious, you don’t know what will happen to you next, until they give you the order to “move along”, “wait on the side”, “come with them”, etc. I have encountered many of those kind of situations in my life due to my dual citizenship, and trust me, I regret I was joking around with border control sometimes.., they are so serious sometimes that one wonders if they are even human…

I decided to perform “Misplaced Man?” at the FNAC in shopping aria in the city center of Aix-en-Provence. It is a private chain shop for culture&technology, and I decided for it because I remember they have security agents, and that was actually good, as I wanted to confront myself to the authority. But it’s also a place, frequented by many people, from different backgrounds, and I thought that my performance in the public space would have no meaning if I wasn’t confronting the criticism of the mass.

I was the first from our workshop group to perform that day. Stress and adrenaline came to me gradually. At some point I just turned off the switch of reason. That same reason, telling one to behave normally, that people will judge YOU, they will think that your are weird..; that you might get in trouble even though you are not hurting anyone, that same reason, that prevents one from doing anything that goes against the norms.

So, after I stopped overthinking, I rushed on instinct and adrenaline alone, to the place I had chosen. In front of the escalators at the entrance of the shop, I dropped my bag down and started to unpack with all my might, as if everything surrounding me stopped to exist. I´ve put all my fury, passion in that act of unpacking, until a security agent came towards me and sort of brought me back to reality.

”What are you doing?!” he asked. Under the adrenaline rush, one thinks quickly, trying to come up with an answer that will satisfy the authority figure in front of you. I had kept my sun glasses on, like a mask separating me from my normal self and responsibility. I looked towards him, and after a bit of hesitation, I replied:

-“Eeeh, I’m looking for my credit card I think I´ve lost it”.

He than seemed relieved, to have a logical explanation to the absurdity happening in front of him.

-“You can’t stay here sir” he says.

-“I’ll be done soon”.- was my answer.

He calls for assistance on his walkie talkie to help him deal with the problem that I incarnated.

The second security guy comes quickly and he pressures me to get on the side or to leave. Feeling the tension growing and having nothing more to unpack or take out of my pockets, I can’t temporaries any longer. So I throw everything in my bag very quickly and exit the scene, thinking it was the right time to end it, before there could be any complications.

After leaving, in company of the group, with my performance workshop crowed that has been taking pictures of me, FNAC security guys probably realised that they were tricked by my lame excuse.

It took me a while before the super high adrenaline dropped down and got balanced again. Only then I got my normal senses back.”

Photos: Tanja Ostojić
Video: Anaïs Clercx

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