MisplacedWomen?

Posts Tagged ‘performance art’

Misplaced Women? A Translation of a Travel Diary in British Sign Language

In Berlin, Performances, Railway-stations, Train Station, Train stations on July 15, 2019 at 11:04 am

Contribution by: Susan Merrick 

“Misplaced Women?, A Translation of a Travel Diary in British Sign Language”, 30 minute performance by Susan Merrick

23.05.2019 Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Train Station (Berlin, Germany)

Tanja invited me to consider presenting a performance for the Misplaced Women? project whilst I was working with her for a few days in Berlin. I’d asked Tanja if I could work with her on my own project ‘Practicing to Share’ and it seemed appropriate to actually work within each others projects during this time, to understand one another and to consider each others theme of work.

“Misplaced Women?, A Translation of a Travel Diary in British Sign Language”, a 30 minute performance by Susan Merrick, 2019. 
Video recording: Tanja Ostojić. Video editing: Susan Merrick

I spent some time thinking about what would feel appropriate, and where. How it would fit to my own idea of misplaced, my feeling of ‘place’ while in Berlin, a city I’d only visited once before as a young woman. Also my feelings of my ‘[mis]placement’ within my work as a Sign Language Interpreter, working between two cultures, between two languages, being at times ‘invisible’, yet very visible.

Rather than cultivating a performance in any way Tanja simply gave me the performance score to look over and using the rucksack I already had with me, we chose to explore Berlin train station, Gesundbrunnen that was near to where we were working. 

Susan Merrick: “Misplaced Women?”, Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Train Station, 2019. Photo: Tanja Ostojić

I chose a position at the end of a platform. It felt quiet, intimate, and sat at a junction of two tracks. I have an affinity with train stations and much of my work has taken place in or around them. I have worked within busier positions but for this day I wanted some space and to see the location of Berlin behind me.

I began by removing my shoes and jumper. I wanted to be comfortable and to sit while I disclosed my belongings. I slowly removed each item from my bag, surprising myself by how much was in the bag that I had only emptied earlier that day (or so I thought!). Items of everyday use, but also items of specificity to the trip I was on, a camera, some shaving foam and razor – ready for some other work we were to do later – and a travel journal that I had written 17 years previously whilst on my only other visit to Berlin. 

Susan Merrick: “Misplaced Women?, A Translation of a Travel Diary in British Sign Language”, Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Train Station, 2019. Photo: Tanja Ostojić

Often I allow my surroundings to influence my actions in my work, responding to the stimuli around me. I allowed these items to do the same to me, not planning but following what the items suggested to me. I was really interested in my position between the train tracks so I decided to perform the creation of a track, placing shaving foam on my leg in a line and shaving the hair from my leg in a strip, straight like a track. I wiped it clean with a red head scarf.

I then opened up my travel journal from 2002. I read and translated into British Sign Language (BSL), some of the pages that spoke of my previous visit to Berlin. The journey into the city on the train and a visit to the zoo where we couldn’t afford the photographs that were taken of us. The language miscommunications and the laughter of the train guard who found our worries over a door not closing hilarious. Our lack of money and our exhaustion at travelling around. Our decision to sit and wait 7 hours in a hostel reception waiting for a room and our reliance on the kindness of others.

Susan Merrick: “Misplaced Women?, A Translation of a Travel Diary in British Sign Language”, Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Train Station, 2019. Photo: Tanja Ostojić

Using BSL in this way felt an appropriate challenge to the work, on a quiet platform, in a train station in Berlin, speaking only to the camera and to Tanja behind it, with no-one understanding me, using a language not native to the country, or even to me. A language that has become my profession, and that I have adopted now for over half my life, that works its way into my Art, and that I can never truly feel I belong.

Susan Merrick: “Misplaced Women?, A Translation of a Travel Diary in British Sign Language”, Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Train Station, 2019. Photo: Tanja Ostojić

Finally I took up my polaroid camera, taking a photograph of the semi circle of belongings surrounding my feet. Of Tanja watching me. Of the Train tracks reaching towards and away from me. 

Mis placed. Placed mistakenly. [Mis]placed

Lost. Unfound. In-between. Where am I?

As Artists where are we? Where do we belong? Who decides? Who finds us? Who loses us?

Susan Merrick is an Artist from the UK. She is also a Sign Language Interpreter and this profession greatly influences her performance practice.

Photos from performance on May 23, 2019 at Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Train Station were captured by Tanja Ostojić

Video recording: Tanja Ostojić.

Video editing: Susan Merrick

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Please visit as well other contributions and posts from Berlin, from different workshops and individual or group performances:

Contribution by Nati Canto 

Contribution by Rhea Ramjohn

Contribution by Mad Kate

Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz

Contribution by Katja Vaghi

Contribution by LADY GABY

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Contribution by Татьяна Bogacheva

Older posts Berlin 2009: 

Contribution by Tanja Ostojić: Berlin, TXL Airport

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

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.

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dagmara Bilon performing “Misplaced Women?” in the Olympic Park, London, in frame of Tanja Ostojic´s workshop (December 2016)

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

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

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

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

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

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Text written by Dagmara Bilon

Edited by Tanja Ostojić and Danyel Ferreri

Photos featured in this post taken by the “Misplaced Women?” workshop participants, London, and Aleksandar Utjesinovic

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

Misplaced Women? sign on Pearson International Airport in Toronto

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

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

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Photo: Tanja Ostojic

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Further Misplaced Women? Toronto Program:

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

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

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

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Photo: Bojana Videkanic

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

#7a11d2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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

La Grand Escalier de la Gare du Saint Charles a Marseille, France, December 17, 2015.

In Marseille, Railway-stations on December 18, 2015 at 9:53 am

On December 17, 2015, from about 12:45 to 13:30h, on my way from village of Vauvenargue and Aix-en-Provence to Géneve, I performed my “Missplaced Women?” on la Grand Escalier de la Gare du Saint Charles a Marseille. As I had almost an hour of time, while waiting for my TGV train, I enjoyed the gorgeous staircase and the view from the top. I enjoyed watching people passing by. People in transit and people hanging out there. I took time to find inside of my suitcase things I actually needed in my hand bag, and I took a moment to refresh my vernis that got worn out in past few days in la Provence. Young guy whom I asked for assistance to capture a photo of me did it with a pleasure and used a chance to warn me that i should not ask other people for such favour as they might run away with my photo camera. As he gave me back my camera, he advised me as well to pack my stuff and to keep them close to myself.

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