MisplacedWomen?

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Misplaced Self in the Misplaced City

In Homes, Photos, Stories, Wuhan on April 5, 2020 at 7:47 pm

Tan Tan is performance and video artist of younger generation who went to visit her parents in Wuhan early this year and got accidentally under the total lockdown as of January 23, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Before she is going to be hopefully finally released after two-and-half-moths, on April 8, 2020, she gives us an inside into her Diary under Wuhan Lockdown, shares with us six of the predominant feelings she lived those days, and some of the daily photos from the window of her parents home. Panic. Anxiety. Anger. Sadness. Depression. Redemption.                                                                           

(Tanja Ostojić)

From Tan Tan’s online diary: View to the Central South Hospital of Wuhan University from Tan Tan’s home during the total lockdown in Wuhan. Photo / Copyright: Tan Tan, 2020

Misplaced Self in the Misplaced City

By Tan Tan

April 2, 2020.

I am in Wuhan, central China, where I was born and raised. This was not a famous city for most of people around the world, as it is one of the second-tier Chinese cities (recently upgraded to ‘the new first-tire’), not like Beijing, Shanghai, which are of the traditional first-tier mage cities. But from the mid-January, Wuhan was globally exposed, accidentally, due to a newly discovered virus that invaded this city, and threatened millions of human lives with mind blowing speed. Right now, this virus, already known as Coronavirus (COVID-19), has become a crazy international pandemic. When I first heard the shocking news of the lockdown of Wuhan, I did not imagine that the whole world can be trapped today. Everyone is living a precarious life despite nationalities, identities, positions, and classes.

Until today, it is still not scientifically proven if Wuhan was the place of origin for the virus, yet due to the broadcasting of the international mass media, many people prefer to believe that. Thus, a ‘misplaced’ accusation has been brought to this city, turned it into a ‘place of the virus.’ As we know, every stereotype, prejudice, racial discrimination among human beings could last for centuries, so I don’t know for how long Wuhan needs to carry this ‘reputation’.

Since the beginning of the lockdown on January 23, every day before midnight, I posted a short diary on the ‘WeChat friends circle’ (a popular mobile-based social networking platform in China) with a photo. The composition is a framed view of each day from the same window at my home. In the picture, the building complex across the lake is Central South Hospital of Wuhan University, which is one of the most prestigious hospitals treating the Coronavirus epidemic in Wuhan. I decided to wrap this daily log on March 28, because from that day on, the people from outside have been permitted to enter Wuhan conditionally. After 66-day-long total lockdown, Wuhan finally has started to open its border gradually, and the lockdown will be totally withdrawn on April 8, according to official announcement. At this moment, I would like to share my personal experience during the hard times, by extracting six principal emotions out of my diary, as a potential reference to some of you who are still struggling with the quarantine.

From Tan Tan’s online diary: View to the Central South Hospital of Wuhan University from Tan Tan’s home during the total lockdown in Wuhan. Photo / Copyright: Tan Tan, 2020

Panic. I guess everyone in the world had more or less the same panic when we realised that COVID-19 is much more contagious than SARS, MERS, or any other known infectious disease in human history, and worldwide experts have no idea of the cure for this disease. In other words, it seems that this disease could lead us to the end of the world. But in the first half month of the lockdown in Wuhan, the panic was even tougher, because before the disease spread rapidly to other cities, we were rather alone to face this unknown catastrophe. Approximately, shortly after January 21, my cellphone became a container of the hell, as every hour, some scary news or rumour popped up on its screen, including the hospitals begging for support, the doctors and nurses crying, and the increasing number of patients that had no way to be saved. From January 24 to 31, I spent the worst Chinese New Year I could remember, with panic rising day by day.

From Tan Tan’s online diary: View to the Central South Hospital of Wuhan University from Tan Tan’s home during the total lockdown in Wuhan. Photo / Copyright: Tan Tan, 2020

Anxiety. Since the medical supplies such as masks and protective clothing were in a massive lack during the first month, anxiety was a prevailing and dominating mood shared by all the people in Wuhan. As an artist, I felt so useless when confronting this kind of crisis, which was an even worse feeling than panic. Fortunately, an exit from such negative state opened its door for me. From January 26 on, I joined a volunteer’s team Lumo Road Rescue Group to do some online work for donating the supplies to the hospitals. Lumo Road is the landmark of live-houses and hippy culture in Wuhan and this collective was mainly composed of rock fans, artists, musicians, university students, and other night life grassroots. I am one of them in a way. Surprisingly, these party-goers did a very serious and effective teamwork, connecting the donors and the ones in need, and have arranged for thousands of products per day to be sent to the hospitals, one-week-long. Perhaps our biggest advantage is that we are all the type of people that want to skip the bureaucratic (sometimes ridiculous) administration, and directly put the things in hands of those in need. Nevertheless, after one week, I found that my anxiety was not decreasing, but quite in contrary, it was growing. It is because I realised that even if I gave up sleep, I could not fill up the gap between the supply and the demand, as always more and more patients and hospitals cried out for help. Like many other voluntary communities, Lumo Road Rescue Group decided to cease our work after this busy week, because we could not solve this endless anxiety, and several members of the group got infected while delivering the supplies.

From Tan Tan’s online diary: View to the Central South Hospital of Wuhan University from Tan Tan’s home during the total lockdown in Wuhan. Photo / Copyright: Tan Tan, 2020

Anger. Anger comes and goes in my diary. I think there are different reasons for being furious in every distinct nation under such epidemic situation. In China, especially in Wuhan, in the beginning, I was so angry about our political system that was always trying to cover the bad news, which caused about ten days delay in dealing with this virus. Li Wenliang, as one of the ‘whistleblowers’ to warn people of the suspicious virus, became internationally acclaimed as a Chinese hero oppressed by the ‘Big Brother,’ and killed by Coronavirus. After being a volunteer, I became even angrier day by day over many inefficient and inhuman measures from certain authorities, like the Chinese Committee of the Red Cross, which controlled the biggest storage of the supplies but was not competent for distributing them timely. This feeling was also provoked by various discrimination present among the people. Some of international media (outside China) insists on the stigma of ‘Wuhan Pneumonia’ although it has got the scientific name (COVID-19) already in January; there are some Westerners who like to shout at Chinese people (or even Asian looking people) on the street as ‘Coronavirus’; inside China, people from Wuhan and Hubei (the province of Wuhan) are discriminated by those from other areas; even in my own building, my neighbours didn’t allow a tenement to live here anymore when he came back in Wuhan from another city, for he might be a threat to bring the virus to this ‘zero infected building’…

From Tan Tan’s online diary: View to the Central South Hospital of Wuhan University from Tan Tan’s home during the total lockdown in Wuhan. Photo / Copyright: Tan Tan, 2020

Sadness. Sadness never leaves. Besides Wuhan people, this mood is among people all over the world. Because we all know that in addition to the official data of death, there are much more ‘grey areas’ in the statistics. In Wuhan, except say that there are 2.567 casualties* on the list so far, but we don’t know how many people have left the world before the two new hospitals and the mobile cabin hospitals were built. What’s more, how many people were killed by other diseases in the situation of no access to ordinary treatment in the hospitals? How many people became homeless because of the sudden lockdown? How many people lost their jobs or are facing bankruptcy? Last but not least, how many pets have been abandoned and killed by vicious rumours and cold hearts?

From Tan Tan’s online diary: View to the Central South Hospital of Wuhan University from Tan Tan’s home during the total lockdown in Wuhan. Photo / Copyright: Tan Tan, 2020

Depression. All the emotions listed above often drove me into a deep depression during those days. I guess many of you who are reading this text might feel the same. Because we are all vulnerable, useless, uninformed/over-informed, and under a quarantine with an unpredictable end. We are all isolated and ‘misplaced’ in an incredible situation. Personally, I have coincidentally stayed with my parents for more than two months under the same roof, without seeing anyone else. This is rather a big challenge than a happy family reunion to me, as the generational gaps in China are specially huge. My parents and I have opposite life styles, and opposite opinions on values, and politics most of the time. On the other hand, as an artist engaged in performance art and other edge-cutting art forms, I don’t want to shock my parents with my ‘crazy’ behaviours at their home. Thus, I was not able to do many of my artistic actions normally and had to disguise myself as their ‘good girl.’ In this sense, I have lost my integrity, my real world and space, and have been living with a ‘misplaced self.’

From Tan Tan’s online diary: View to the Central South Hospital of Wuhan University from Tan Tan’s home during the total lockdown in Wuhan. Photo / Copyright: Tan Tan, 2020

Redemption. Hopefully, in parallel with all these negative emotions, there is also a force that supports each of us, that is, the rescue and self-rescue. Other than joining the volunteers to serve the hospitals, many people chose to implement immaterial redemption. Artistically, there are countless online exhibitions and live music performances; spiritually, there are various psychological assistance and religious group blessings. I myself have participated in two exhibitions and three publications linked with the epidemic situation. Moreover, I submitted an art project to an institution on the theme of animal protection, because this human crisis makes me feel more the call of rebalancing the energies of the earth, and even the entire universe. In ancient times, humans used to respect all plants and animals, and followed the steps of God and nature. Today, because of ‘capitalism,’ ‘overconsumption,’ and the ‘society of spectacle,’ we become more and more reckless to the natural principles. As an evident result, the world becomes as it was in Revelation of the Bible overnight. At this moment, not only Wuhan and China, this wild animal-derived virus has conquered the anthropocentrism terrain; meanwhile, locust plagues, mountain fires, hurricanes, and floods are also emerging one after another in every corner of the world. Therefore, I think it is time for us to go back to the sources of our world, then reshape the reciprocity between humans and animals and what humans are doing to the earth. This is more fundamental salvation than any vaccine. May it be written on the plan of the redemption from the Universe.

Eventually, after so many traumas, with the strong spirit and contribution by ordinary  Chinese people, and the zigzag endeavours from the position of power (governament), Wuhan has survived this war. There are many more issues that should be addressed in order to tell the whole story of this ‘misplaced’ city, but I could only write down a diary from a personal view. On the April 8, we will be hopefully finally ‘freed’ from the lockdown as announced, but the obstacles for true mobility must still stay, so when will my days of ‘misplaced self’ come to an end? When I look at the world and the universe, I feel as I am still a prisoner, as I don’t know where else I can go and how to board on Noah’s Ark…

At the end, I would like to make a quote from my diary, ‘This troubled world would no longer allow us to wait, we shall start the process of healing.’

Tan Tan: A Diary under Wuhan Lockdown, video, 2020.

Tan Tan is an intermedia artist who currently lives and works in China and Belgium. Her oeuvre covers experimental film/video art, performance/theater, music/sound art, installation, and cyber art.She had several solo exhibitions and took part in numerous art events internationally, such as 60th Berlinale, 2010, International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2011 (IFFR), Images Festival, 2012 (Canada), 43rd Tampere Film Festival, 2013 (Finland),  Venize Biennale, 2015 and 2017, Asian Art Top Show, 2010  (China), 1st ASEAN Biennial, 2013 (China), Wuzhen Theatre Festival, 2016 (China), Creative China Festival at La Mama Experimental theater, 2019 (The USA)

*(Editorial comment) As of april 17, 2020 the offical number of casualties in Wuhan rised for about 50%, from 2.567 to almost 3.900.

This is a contribution by invitation, to Tanja Ostojić’s Misplaced Women? project. Edited and first published by: Tanja Ostojić at the Misplaced Women? Project blog, April 5, 2020.

Please see Tan Tan’s March 8, 2018 performance contribution to the Misplaced Women? project

Doing Gender Contribution by Li Fu

In Innsbruck, Performances, Stories, Workshops on February 18, 2019 at 10:44 am

Doing Gender 8102.50.3*

60 min Performance von Li Fu

Universität Innsbruck

Beschreibung und konzeptionelle Einbettung

„’Doing gender’ zielt darauf ab, Geschlecht bzw. Geschlechterzugehörigkeit nicht als Eigenschaft oder Merkmal von Individuen zu betrachten, sondern jene sozialen Prozesse in den Blick zu nehmen, in denen ‘Geschlecht’ als sozial folgenreiche Unterscheidung hervorgebracht und reproduziert wird.“(*1)

Der Körper wird exponiert und in verschiedenen Schritten wird versucht die Konstruktion von Geschlecht in einzelnen Bausteinen zu zerlegen wie auch wieder herzustellen und diese somit nachvollziehbar zu machen. Da die Herstellung von Geschlecht „eine gebündelte Vielfalt sozial gesteuerter Tätigkeiten auf der Ebene der Wahrnehmung, der Interaktion und der Alltagspolitik [umfasst], welche bestimmte Handlungen mit der Bedeutung versehen, Ausdruck weiblicher oder männlicher ‘Natur’ zu sein“ (*2), betritt die Person in einem ersten Schritt in einem Poncho den Raum. Der Schnitt des Ponchos hebt keine Körperpartien besonders hervor und versucht somit beim Gegenüber keine gezielte Konstruktion von Geschlecht zu generieren. Daher wird es möglich in einem inneren Prozess zu sehen, welche Kategorien von Geschlecht die Betrachter*innen der Performance dem Subjekt auf dem Laufsteg von vornherein zuschreiben. 

Der Campus Innrain bot sich als Ort des Oszillierens zwischen Theorie und Praxis besonders für das Aufzeigen des iterativen Prozesses der Konstruktion-Dekonstruktion-Rekonstruktion-Dekonstruktion an.

Der Raum wurde in zwei Ebenen eingeteilt: dem fiktional privaten hinteren Bereich, der aus einer gläsernen Decke besteht, die Einblick in die Bibliothek gewährt; aus einer Fensterfront, die zum Spiegel umfunktioniert wird; aus Sitzgelegenheiten, die den ‘privaten Bereich’ umrahmen und damit abgrenzen, aber gleichzeitig auch als Interaktionsort mit dem Außen genutzt werden können und dem vorderen öffentlichen Bereich, in welchem das in Anthrazit gehaltene und langgezogene Gitter als Laufsteg umfunktioniert wird. 

Li Fu: “Doing Gender 8102.50.3*”, University of Innsbruck, “Misplaced Women?” Project Workshop, Art in Public Space Tyrol, 2018. Photo: Daniel Jarosch. Copyright: Tanja Ostojic

Auf der Schwelle zwischen dem öffentlichen und privaten Bereich wird ein Merkmal (symbolisch dargestellt durch den Nagellack) als schmerzhafter Befreiungsakt von vorgefertigten Kategorien  von Geschlecht entfernt. Dabei liegt der Nagellack wie eine zweite Haut auf dem Körper und lässt sich nur mühsam und in einem sich ständig wiederholenden Akt und in Wechselwirkung mit einem dem Körper externen Hilfsmittel (Nagellackentferner) sukzessive entfernen. 

Im privaten Bereich werden dann Hilfsmittel aus dem Koffer gezielt benutzt, um ‘Männlichkeit’  herzustellen. 

Li Fu: “Doing Gender 8102.50.3*”, University of Innsbruck, “Misplaced Women?” Project Workshop, Kunst in Öffentlichen Raum Tirol, 2018. Photo: Daniel Jarosch. Copyright: Tanja Ostojic

Haltungen werden im Spiegel geübt und gezielte Kleidungsstücke und Accessoires sollen der Konstruktion behilflich sein.  

Anhand überspitzt ‘typischer’ Verhaltensweisen (aggressiv – lässiges umstoßen des Mülleimers – Handeln im sozialen Raum) wird ‘Männlichkeit’ performiert, wie auch anhand der Haltung, des Ganges, der Mimik und Gestik, das Tun, das in der sozialen Situation verankert ist und das in der virtuellen oder realen Gegenwart anderer vollzogen wird, von denen wir annehmen, dass sie sich daran orientieren“(*3), die Konstruktionselemente sichtbar werden lässt. 

Li Fu: “Doing Gender 8102.50.3*”, University of Innsbruck, “Misplaced Women?” Project Workshop, Art in Public Space Tyrol, 2018. Photo: Daniel Jarosch. Copyright: Tanja Ostojic
Li Fu: “Doing Gender 8102.50.3*”, University of Innsbruck, “Misplaced Women?” Project Workshop, Art in Public Space Tyrol, 2018. Photo: Daniel Jarosch. Copyright: Tanja Ostojic

Im privaten Bereich setzt sich nun das Subjekt mit dem eben Hergestellten Schicht für Schicht auseinander und übt sich in ‘männlich betroffener Schweigsamkeit’. 

Li Fu: “Doing Gender 8102.50.3*”, University of Innsbruck, “Misplaced Women?” Project Workshop, Art in Public Space Tyrol, 2018. Photo: Daniel Jarosch. Copyright: Tanja Ostojic

Nun wird an das Subjekt in einer Interaktion ein alternatives Handlungs- und Zuschreibungsangebot von Außen [Performance assistance by Pippa Chase] herangetragen. Dies operiert mit sozial anerkannten Bildern, denen auch eine gewisse Zugehörigkeit und Solidarität innewohnen. 

Li Fu: “Doing Gender 8102.50.3*”, University of Innsbruck, “Misplaced Women?” Project Workshop, Art in Public Space Tyrol, 2018. Photo: Daniel Jarosch. Copyright: Tanja Ostojic

‘Frau’/ Freundin’ macht ‘Frau’/ Freundin’ die Nägel und sucht aus dem Koffer ein ‘passendes’ Kleidungsstück für sie aus. 

Li Fu: “Doing Gender 8102.50.3*”, University of Innsbruck, “Misplaced Women?” Project Workshop, Art in Public Space Tyrol, 2018. Photo: Daniel Jarosch. Copyright: Tanja Ostojic

‘Frau’ rasiert sich die Beine und cremt sich ein. Schicht um Schicht wird der performative Akt vollzogen. Die Konstruktion ‘der Weiblichkeit’ wirkt im Spiegelbild verzerrt. 

Li Fu: “Doing Gender . 8102.50.3*”, University of Innsbruck, “Misplaced Women?” Project Workshop, Art in Public Space Tyrol, 2018. Photo: Daniel Jarosch. Copyright: Tanja Ostojic
Li Fu: “Doing Gender 8102.50.3*”, University of Innsbruck, “Misplaced Women?” Project Workshop, Art in Public Space Tyrol, 2018. Photo: Daniel Jarosch. Copyright: Tanja Ostojic

Die Inszenierung von ‘der Weiblichkeit’.

Im privaten Bereich setzt sich nun das Subjekt mit dem eben Hergestellten Schicht für Schicht auseinander und übt sich im ‘weiblichen Ausbruch’ – lautes Weinen und ‘hysterisches’ Anklagen:  (Wer bin ich? [im privaten Raum])

Li Fu: “Doing Gender 8102.50.3*”, University of Innsbruck, “Misplaced Women?” Project Workshop, Art in Public Space Tyrol, 2018. Photo: Daniel Jarosch. Copyright: Tanja Ostojic

Schicht für Schicht wird ein ‘Dazwischen’ konstruiert und erhebt zum ersten Mal die Stimme im öffentlichen Raum erhoben.

Li Fu: “Doing Gender 8102.50.3*”, University of Innsbruck, “Misplaced Women?” Project Workshop, Art in Public Space Tyrol, 2018. Photo: Daniel Jarosch. Copyright: Tanja Ostojic

„Es ist nicht ER. Es ist nicht SIE. Es gibt auch ein  ‘DAZWISCHEN’. Wer das nicht checken will, soll sich einfach verpissen. Daran stört mich nicht mal die fehlende Empathie, sondern die in so vielen Ländern herrschende Transphobie.“(*4)

Vorbereitungsphase: ca. eine Stunde am Vorabend. 

Text: Li Fu

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Fußnoten:

  1. Gildemeister 2004, S. 132
  2. West/Zimmermann 1987, S.14
  3. West/Zimmermann 1987, S.14 zitiert nach Übersetzung in Gildemeister/Wetterer 1992, S. 237 In: Gildemeister 2004, S.132
  4. Auszug aus einem Hip Hop Text von Li Fu
  5. Siehe dazu Weber 2011

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Literaturverzeichnis:

Gildemeister, Regine (2004): Doing Gender. Soziale Praktiken der Geschlechterunterscheidung.

In: Becker, Ruth/Kortendiek, Beate (Hg): Handbuch Frauen und Geschlechterforschung. Theorie, Methoden, Empirie.

VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften: Wiesbaden, S. 132-140. 

Weber, Max (2011): Wissenschaft als Beruf. Duncker & Humblot: Berlin. 

West, Candance/ Zimmerman, Don H. (1987): ‘Doing Gender’ zitiert nach Gildemeister, Regine/ Wetterer, Angelika (1992): Wie Geschlechter gemacht werden. Die soziale Konstruktion von Zweigeschlechtlichkeit und ihre Reifizierung in der Frauenforschung. In: Knapp, Gudrun-Axeli/ Wetterer, Angelika (Hg.): Tradition Brüche. Entwicklung feministischer Theorie. Kore: Freiburg In: Gildemeister, Regine (2004): Doing Gender. Soziale Praktiken der Geschlechterunterscheidung. In: Becker, Ruth/ Kortendiek, Beate (Hg): Handbuch Frauen und Geschlechterforschung. Theorie, Methoden, Empirie. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften: Wiesbaden, S. 132-140.

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Zur Person: Einfälle einer* Dilettant*in (*5)

Li Fu interessiert sich für das Politische im Alltäglichen und gesellschaftliche Entwicklungstendenzen der Gegenwart. Besonders die Konstruktion des Alltags und die Betrachtung der Bausteine, anhand welchen Wirklichkeiten konstruiert werden, liegen hierbei im Fokus. In D.I.Y. -Manier wird anhand unterschiedlicher Performances der Versuch unternommen theoretische Konzepte in den Alltag zu überführen. 

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Edited and first published by Tanja Ostojic on the “Misplaced Women?” Blog 2018/19

This Performance has been released in the frame of: “Misplaced Women?” Workshop by Tanja Ostojic, May 2018, Art in Public Space Tyrol /Kunst in Öffentlichen Raum Tirol, Austria.

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Please visit as well other contributions and posts from the same workshops:

Review by Tanja Ostojic: Misplaced Women? @ Art-In-Public-Space Tyrol, Innsbruck

Code Contribution by Li Fu

Open Call for participants for the “Misplaced Women?” performance workshop in the public space with Tanja Ostojić, in Innsbruck, May 11-13 2018, with a presentation in Die Bäckerei

Offene Ausschreibung zur Teilnahme an der “Misplaced Women?” Performance-Kunst-Werkstatt im öffentlichen Raum mit Tanja Ostojić vom 11–13 Mai 2018 in Innsbruck mit einer Aufführung in Die Bäckerei

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Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz

In Berlin, Workshops on February 5, 2019 at 5:24 pm

Group Interventions of Mapping around the neighborhood of Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Berlin-Weißensee, 23.01.2018.

A contribution by Mad Kate

Participants: Gaby Bila-Günther, Tatiana Bogacheva, Sajan Mani, Kathryn Fischer aka Mad Kate

Listen to the Soundscape Weißensee

It was important to me to begin our interventions by understanding some answers to the question: “Where am I?” (politically, socially, economically)

Since I have lived in Berlin for 14 years, I am familiar with many neighborhoods, but never with this neighborhood in detail. I have performed at the Delphi Theater down the road, but this is my only interaction with the neighborhood. The Delphi is a very old “peoples theater” in Berlin and so I knew that this neighborhood had a history of an art scene, but at the same time is not a very busy or gentrified area. I know simply by being inside the Kunsthalle that this kind of large space for experimental workshops such as these one — “Misplaced Women?” By Tanja Ostojić — is increasingly rare. Many recent events at Kunsthalle have been committed to postcolonial discourse and bringing attention to the works of nonwhite artists—the kind of work that is not typically given spaces in more commercial areas of Berlin or at larger galleries. This already gives me a clue that the neighborhood is still affordable enough for a place like this to exist, while at the same time hints that the art scene may again be growing around here. 

Mad Kate: Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photo: Gaby Bila-Günther, Tatiana Bogacheva, Sajan Mani

As a general practice before performing, I have been trying to get into the habit of understanding my sociopolitical context. This means “mapping” the area, using the “stage” (the venue) as my centering point, and working my way directionally around the center space, taking in sights, subtle changes, reading clues about the demographics of businesses and people on the streets. I also try to talk to people as much as possible to find out a bit more about the neighborhood and who is living there. 

Mad Kate: Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photo: Tatiana Bogacheva, Sajan Mani, Mad Kate

Gaby, Tanya, Sajan, and myself all decided to go about mapping the area. I took along my sound recorder and gave it to Tanya for most of our journey so she could experience being immersed in the sounds around us. She told me that it was an extremely psychedelic experience to her! Gaby and I took photos, made sounds, made “found instruments” and marked different areas with string. We also sometimes mirrored physical shapes with our bodies. 

Mad Kate: Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Berlin, “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, 2018.

Listen to the Soundscape Weißensee

I noted down a “map” of our walk and noticed places of new development, abandoned buildings, the types of businesses, and a conversation I had with one artisan who had recently moved there. She was a paper maker who had also found a place to rent in the neighborhood. She has a small handmade paper business on a quiet side street. There were other “new artists” living in the area who had opened up a DIY gallery, an artist performance space, and other businesses that I saw as related, ie a yoga studio and a mobile burrito van. The residences appeared to be either very old buildings, presumably with residents on old contracts, and very new loft-style developments, and one van, that appeared to be someones home. 

Mad Kate: Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photos: Gaby Bila-Günther, Sajan Mani, Mad Kate

We walked over towards Caligara Platz, which had a historical marker noting that this used to be called “Little Hollywood”. So the area has historically had the mark of artists, theater and film navigating and weaving in with the rest of the residents. It made me wonder a lot about how the art school students integrate or do not integrate with the rest of the neighborhood, as one student who was part of the said they felt some antagonism or “difference” from the people around who sometimes resented their presence doing public art. Given the fact that artists and others are being pushed out of the central neighborhoods of Berlin, however, I suspect that Weißensee will see an increasing amount of new and diverse communities moving in and I’m curious to see how these changes will take shape in the next five to 10 years.  

It was encouraging and supportive to be in a group of artists who were committed to doing these kinds of public work. In this group context it was wonderful to explore the surrounding area of our workshop.

Mad Kate: Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photos: Gaby Bila-Günther, Tatiana Bogacheva, Sajan Mani, Mad Kate
Mad Kate: Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photos: Gaby Bila-Günther, Tatiana Bogacheva, Sajan Mani, Mad Kate


Text by Mad Kate

Edited and first published by Tanja Ostojić, 2018/19 on the Misplaced Women? project blog

Kathryn Fischer aka Mad Kate is a polyhomefull US-American sound and performance artist based in Berlin, interested in interrogating the politics of borders within and between bodies.

Mad Kate: Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photos: Gaby Bila-Günther, Tatiana Bogacheva, Sajan Mani, Mad Kate

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Please visit as well other contributions and posts from the same workshops:

Contribution by LADY GABY

Contribution by Mad Kate

Contribution by Rhea Ramjohn

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Contribution by Татьяна Bogacheva

Contribution by Katja Vaghi

Contribution by Nati Canto

Public Presentation of the Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, January 2018

Open Call for participants for the Misplaced Women? performance art workshop with Tanja Ostojić in Berlin, January 22-24 2018, hosted by Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz

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Older posts Berlin 2009:

Tanja Ostojić: Berlin, TXL Airport on November 21, 2009, 11 p.m,

and Valentina Medda: Misplaced Women?, Performa New York, 2009. Simultanious delegated perfromance with Tanja Ostojic, at Berlin TXL airport.

A Poetry Intervention by Nati Canto

In Berlin, Performances, Tram station, Workshops on February 4, 2019 at 1:17 pm

A Poetry Intervention by Nati Canto: One Art by Elizabeth Bishop, 2018

For the Misplaced Women? Workshop lead by Tanja Ostojić in Berlin in January 2018, I thought it was interesting to have something feminine to show in my performance and that I could identify with because being someone from Brazil in Berlin and having traveled and lived in other countries, I believe as a woman in my mid-30s I came to the conclusion that life is about learning how to deal with losses and knowing how to size them up and to transform our everyday life no matter where we are.

I decided to recite in the Berlin Overground, U-Bahn line U1 from Kottbusser Tor to Schlesisches Tor, the well-known poem called One Art, written by Elizabeth Bishop in the 1970s. I wanted to do that because reciting a poem in the realm of poem reading evenings or special moments where people would expect to listen to a poem would not give me the response I was looking for. Reciting by heart in public transportation was the chance of challenging people out of their comfort zone and at the same time confusing them on what I actually expected from them since there are many street artists around Berlin who wander with paper coffee cups asking for monetary contributions. Was I another one of them? That was definitely not my case. I just wanted to shake people’s state of mind for a short amount of time and leave.

Nati Canto: A Poetry Intervention (One Art by Elizabeth Bishop), “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photo documentation: Alice Minervini, Sajan Mani, Jiachen Xu, Evdoxia Stafylaraki.

The poem is precious to me because Elizabeth Bishop lived for years in Brazil with a famous Brazilian architect called Lota de Macedo Soares and she wrote a lot of her poems there. After many years, Bishop decided to go back to the United States, so she left Lota who had never accepted it and ended up committing suicide. 

The poem is written in the first person and it underlines the value of learning from loosing things throughout life. And it starts from very simple and small things such losing door keys and it escalates to losing houses, two rivers, a continent and losing the person you love, at last. This is when Bishop tries to convince herself that it’s not that hard to lose someone, but deep inside she knows it really is.

Nati Canto: A Poetry Intervention (One Art by Elizabeth Bishop), “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photo documentation: Alice Minervini, Sajan Mani, Jiachen Xu, Evdoxia Stafylaraki.

Text written by: Nati Canto

Edited and first published by Tanja Ostojić, 2018-19 on the Misplaced Women? project blog

Perforative intervention by Nati Canto, duration: approximately 40 minutes.

Video and photo documentation: Alice Minervini, Sajan Mani, Jiachen Xu, Evdoxia Stafylaraki.

Nati Canto: A Poetry Intervention (One Art by Elizabeth Bishop),“Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photo documentation: Alice Minervini, Sajan Mani, Jiachen Xu, Evdoxia Stafylaraki.

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One Art

By Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

…………..

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

…………..

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

places, and names, and where it was you meant

to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

…………..

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or

next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

…………..

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

………….

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident

the art of losing’s not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

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Nati Canto: A Poetry Intervention (One Art by Elizabeth Bishop), “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Video-still: Alice Minervini

Nati Canto is Berlin based artist of Brazilian origin. Her work unfolds itself where history and personal space meet, often alternating facts and fiction. Her artistic practice combines heterogeneous materials, from the combination of digital and analog equipment, the use of photography, video performance, and more recently the use of text in order to explore how images assume different meanings depending on the ideologies that shape them.

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Please visit as well other contributions and posts from the same workshops:

Contribution by Mad Kate

Contribution by Rhea Ramjohn

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz

Contribution by LADY GABY

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Contribution by Татьяна Bogacheva

Contribution by Katja Vaghi

Public Presentation of the Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, January 2018


Berlin Contribution by Mad Kate

In Berlin, Performances, Workshops on February 2, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Wymyn who travel with me even when they are not here

Contribution by Mad Kate

Locations: Görlitzer Park, Berlin on 24.01.2018., and in transit from Görlitzer Park, Berlin, Germany to den Haag, Netherlands on 25.01.2018.

Regarding my participation in the Berlin iteration of “Misplaced Women?” workshop in the Public Space by Tanja Ostojić (January 2018) — hosted by Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Berlin Weißensee — it was encouraging and supportive to be in a group of artists who were committed to doing these kinds of public works and gave me the confidence and framework to further explore an idea I have been interested in pursuing.

“Wymyn* who travel with me even when they are not here” I performed alone and made my own documentation using a timer on my camera.

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Mad Kate: “Wymyn who travel with me even when they are not here”, “Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, 2018. Photo: Mad Kate

I live across the street from Görlitzer Park and often speak with the numerous men who are hanging out in the park, many of them from Senegal and Gambia. I notice always the lack of presence of women and other non-binary persons in this particular demographic of migrants (the park is otherwise full of women and non-binary persons). This lead to my thinking about how some migrant flows are heavily male and why this is. I thought about the “freedom” of mobility of younger men, especially Muslim men, and the reasons why and how this affects women—sometimes related to these men’s physical ability to move and cross physical borders, to move as a single person without children, to encounter dangerous situations, related to their understanding of identity in relation to their community, their place, their religion, their view of autonomy as a moving migrating body, their community’s expectations of why and how and when they should migrate, their assumed responsibility to make money and send it home, etcetera.

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Mad Kate: “Wymyn who travel with me even when they are not here”, “Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, 2018. Photo: Mad Kate

It made me think a lot about how my gender is already “queered” as an independent, migrating body, whether or not I consider myself queer (which I do, in any case) and makes me stand out from other cunt-bearing bodies–“wymyn”–even within my own US-American culture, who face relatively more strict gender expectations of their femininity and of heteronormativity. The female* migrating body already has a relative independence to women who are required or expected to stay at home and are limited by their own communities to freedom of movement. The migrating body already has access to the privilege of “the adventure of” movement, even when and if they encounter borders who would otherwise attempt to limit their mobility, i.e., even when that movement is illegal.

As a response or way of thinking about this question I decided to dress up all in purple (in part as a ritual marker, in part as a symbol of the womb) and take the large purple suitcase my mother had given me, and I walked into the park. I decorated a large purple hat with photographs of the women who used to live within close proximity to me, whom I moved far away from 14 years ago when I left the United States. I know that some of the women on that hat have never had the privilege of leaving the country. I have thought of many of them as the women I write to in “letters back home”, telling them of my challenges and adventures moving away on my own.

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Mad Kate: “Wymyn who travel with me even when they are not here”, “Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, 2018. Photo: Mad Kate

Walking into the park, holding a sound recorder visibly, I told the people I encountered (most of them the men that gather around the entrances), that I was doing a project about the women we miss from home, those that travel with us in our hearts but couldn’t come with us. I asked them if they would like to contribute a name, an anecdote, or a memory of someone to my sound recording. One of the men shouted at me that I was doing some of kind of “therapy” and sort of made fun of me. Other men spoke to me politely but refused to contribute. Another person said he wasn’t drunk enough to participate but invited me to a jam session of migrant musicians. Finally one woman contributed, sound artist Anne Historical, but she did not fit this same demographic, she was a visitor to Berlin from South Africa. This was our brief exchange.

Here are some of the encounters with the men who spoke to me but did not want to contribute.

I found it disappointing that so few people wanted to share, but at the same time I felt like it was positive action even to ask and to try to make a connection that was atypical of the normal exchanges that happen in that particular situation of entering the park, being offered the chance to buy marijuana and either refusing or accepting. It’s not that I felt like I was “helping” anyone, but rather that I faced my own invisible boundary to break the mode of the expected relationship of consumption; I think this relationship of consumption alienates and segregates.

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Mad Kate: “Wymyn who travel with me even when they are not here”, “Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, 2018. Photo: Mad Kate

On the other hand, I found it alienating to ask people to share stories and face rejection, and wondered if this was too pushy or too invasive of an approach. So I decided after some time to simply wait and see if anyone asked me about what I was doing. I sat in the park for a while and unpacked my suitcase and stayed there and let it be. No one came to ask what I was doing.

The next day, since I was traveling to another country, I decided to put the entire outfit on again and travel to the Netherlands with the same costume and suitcase and the sound recorder. A lot of people noticed me and gave me positive non verbal feedback, but no one asked me about what my hat meant or whether or not my costume and suitcase had significance. However the performative act of carrying the photographs of the women with me near my head helped me feel their absence and appreciate their gift in my life. 

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Footnote: *the word wymyn is purposely “genderf*cked” to disentangle the word 

“man” from the word “woman”, and with the intention of being inclusive 

to transwomen, nonbinary, intersex and other genderqueer persons.

_______________________

Kathryn Fischer aka Mad Kate is a polyhomefull US-American sound and performance artist based in Berlin, interested in interrogating the politics of borders within and between bodies.

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Text and Photos by Mad Kate

Edited and first published by Tanja Ostojić, 2018-19 on the Misplaced Women? project blog

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Please visit as well other contributions and posts from the same workshops:

Contribution by Rhea Ramjohn

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by LADY GABY

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Contribution by Татьяна Bogacheva

Contribution by Katja Vaghi

Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Public Presentation of the Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, January 2018

Berlin Contribution by Татьяна Bogacheva

In Berlin, Performances, Workshops on January 30, 2019 at 4:08 pm

I am pleased to share Татьяна Bogacheva’s contribution to the January 2018, „Misplaced Women?“ Workshop in the Public Space in Berlin — hosted by Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Berlin Weißensee — and her attempts to innerly process and express in performative ways her concerns, fears and experiences around the gendered perspective of homelessness.  (Tanja Ostojic)

 

“Home is a human right”:  (Home is the most dangerous place for women worldwide, domestic violence competing only with car accidents as the main cause of death of women; and, non-European perspective on the institutes of human rights reveals their essentially colonial nature.)

A Contribution by Татьяна, Tatiana Bogacheva

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Tatiana Bogacheva: “Home is a human right”, January 2018, „Misplaced Women?“ Workshop. Intervention Berlin, Alexanderplatz. Photo: Sajan Mani

Cosmopolitan is the preferred self-description of affluent dwellers of global cities reaping the fruits of the centuries of colonialism and its aftermath, globalisation, international division of labour, justice of transnational institutions and ‘illegal’ migration. Either an explorer or an expat, it is more likely to be a man who abandons one place for another or refuses to be associated with one nation, while women’s migration is a public secret. Study-mamas, oil-wives, domestic helpers, those involved in affective labour and care—neither their individual motivation for migration nor their role in shaping the world are given sufficient recognition—they are modernity’s roadies, not its driving force.

 

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Tatiana Bogacheva: “Home is a human right”, January 2018, „Misplaced Women?“ Workshop. Intervention at Berlin Alexanderplatz. Photo: Sajan Mani

When crossing borders alone for work, women are detained on the suspicion of being trafficked due to the persisting victim-centred approach of international human rights and humanitarian organisations which feed into moralistic and patronising narratives. What is primal, the hysteria about endemic sex trafficking or capitalism’s dependency on the surplus of unpaid domestic work? Constraining migration of women through the narratives of danger, human trafficking being its extreme, legitimises restrictions on the freedoms of women and effaces their political agency and grievances connected with their class, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation.

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Tatiana Bogacheva: “Home is a human right”, January 2018, „Misplaced Women?“ Workshop. Intervention at Berlin, Alexanderplatz. Photo: Sajan Mani

Finally, women are barred from the ultimate dropping-out from the societal demands and refusal to do cartwheels to carve oneself a place in the globalised world. You don’t see many female rough sleepers on the streets of Berlin. They sleep in the airports and the sitting couches of overnight trains; on the spare beds in hospitals; at libraries and offices; and at the friends’ sofas and even at their own risk at home with their partners; but they don’t sleep on the street because they—our dutiful daughters, immaculate mothers, virtuous wives and selfless partners—are our only hope on this beautiful,

bright

cosmopolitan

creative

meaningful

modern

peaceful

fair

blue perlaceous planet Earth.

_______________________

Tanya Bogacheva worked in human rights, media and education before commencing her graduate studies in critical cultural studies in Berlin.

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Text written by Tanya Bogacheva

Photo of the public intervention: Sajan Mani

Edited and first published by Tanja Ostojić, 2018/2019 on the Misplaced Women? project blog

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Donate to Berliner Kaeltehilfe

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Please visit as well other contributions and posts from the same workshops:

Contribution by Rhea Ramjohn

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by LADY GABY

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Public Presentation of the Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, January 2018

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Participants of the January 2018 „Misplaced Women?“ Berlin Workshop by Tanja Ostojic.      Photo: Sajan Mani

“Misplaced Women?” project @ the BE.BOP 2018 in London, ABP Autograph & Tate Britain, on June 12

In London, News on May 9, 2018 at 7:59 am

I will be presenting the “Misplaced Women?” project at the BE.BOP 2018 in London, on a panel hosted by ABP Autograph & Tate Britain, on June 12. For information on dates, venues & programming, please visit the following website:

via London

#bebop2018 #coalitionsfacingwhiteinnocenc

 

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Mirror, Mirror – Spread Your Reflection!

In Berlin, Performances, Workshops on February 28, 2018 at 12:47 pm

In the frame of Tanja Ostojić´s Misplaced Women? workshop, January 22–24,2018, hosted by Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Berlin, the following performance action has been developed and performed for the first time:

Mirror, Mirror – Spread Your Reflection!  –  a collaborative intervention with large mirrors in Berlin’s underground confronting manspreading, a habit of men sitting in public transport with legs wide apart, thereby covering more than their own seat.

By: Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

With the participation of: Gaby Bila-Günther, Nati Canto, Alice Minervini, Evdoxia Stafylaraki and Jiachen Xu, without whom this intervention would not be possible.

Duration: ca. 2 hours

Locations:

U8, from Hermannstraße to Weinmeisterstraße

U8, from Weinmeisterstraße to Kottbusser Tor, change to U1

U1, Kottbusser Tor to Wittenbergplatz

U1, Wittenbergplatz to Schlesisches Tor

2-Alice

“Mirror, Mirror – Spread Your Reflection!” by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh, developed in the frame of: Tanja Ostojić´s Misplaced Women? workshop, Berlin (Jan. 2018) With: Gaby Bila-Günther, Nati Canto, Alice Minervini, Evdoxia Stafylaraki, Jiachen Xu. Photo: Alice Minervini

Berlin’s underground station is a central meeting point in the public arena. Various people from all directions come together, pass each other silently or simply diverge paths. In such a rapidly-growing city, the underground has turned into the main means of transport and it is no longer uncommon to see people moving homes or moving their furniture by means of the U-Bahn.

3-Jiachen

“Mirror, Mirror – Spread Your Reflection!” by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh, developed in the frame of: Tanja Ostojić´s Misplaced Women? workshop, Berlin (Jan. 2018) With: Gaby Bila-Günther, Nati Canto, Alice Minervini, Evdoxia Stafylaraki, Jiachen Xu. Photo: Jiachen Xu

Together with five other women holding large mirrors on Berlin’s underground, the collaborative intervention was a silent protest against manspreading faced by women in everyday life. Spectators were privy to the blurred relationship between the women due to the disjointedness of cultural backgrounds, age and style of clothing that characterised each woman.

4-Alice

“Mirror, Mirror – Spread Your Reflection!” by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh, developed in the frame of: Tanja Ostojić´s Misplaced Women? workshop, Berlin (Jan. 2018) With: Gaby Bila-Günther, Nati Canto, Alice Minervini, Evdoxia Stafylaraki, Jiachen Xu. Photo: Alice Minervini

The aim of the subtle intervention was to point out an issue that has become quite normalised in our mind. The intervention showed that even when women appear silent, we are in fact all actors of the public-political sphere. For two hours, women deliberately reclaimed the urban space as a form of resistance.

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“Mirror, Mirror – Spread Your Reflection!” by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh, developed in the frame of: Tanja Ostojić´s Misplaced Women? workshop, Berlin (Jan. 2018) With: Gaby Bila-Günther, Nati Canto, Alice Minervini, Evdoxia Stafylaraki, Jiachen Xu. Photo: Sajan Mani

Separated and placed at different stations along the U8 line, each woman would, one by one, enter the carriage of the same train. We would sit in male-dominated areas, ideally opposite a man spreading his legs widely. The mirror would face him whilst we appeared to be hidden behind each mirror and yet, our bodies were physically always present

At the same time, each woman felt empowered by a small, symbolic act. Yet the impact was strong – we had created a place of surveillance by literally holding up the mirror to men (and to society). We sat a powerful mark on how men have been depriving women of the right to a space that belongs to all of us. We observed reactions of visible intimidation and uneasiness by men who were exposed to our confrontation. We disrupted the urban space and displaced men out of the seemingly guaranteed anonymity.

Using the mirror as a tool of resistance, I was intrigued in particular by its symbolic meaning and the questions it raised: What is (in-)visible? What becomes (in-)visible in public space?

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Text written by: Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Edited and published by: Tanja Ostojić

Photo and video documentation by: Sajan Mani, Alice Minervini and Jiachen Xu

For further actions check out the Spread Your Reflection page.

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Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh is an Activist of Colour based in Berlin.

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Please visit as well other contributions and posts from the same workshops:

Contribution by Nati Canto

Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Contribution by Mad Kate

Contribution by Rhea Ramjohn

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by LADY GABY

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Contribution by Татьяна Bogacheva

Contribution by Katja Vaghi

Public Presentation of the Misplaced Women? Workshop in Berlin, January 24, 2018

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