Curatorial research and written introduction for the Screen City Biennial 2017 – Migrating Stories in Stavanger, Norway.
Migration is a condition of our contemporaneity, a symptom of the world’s interface today. The plight of thousands of migrants putting their lives in peril to cross the Mediterranean and other geo-political borders in the escape from war, terror and miserable living conditions evokes the ways in which people, politics, history, ideas and personal narratives today migrate to new locations and dislocations, revealing the urgencies of elsewhere in our here and now. With Migrating Stories, the Screen City Moving Image Biennial takes contemporary conditions of movement as its thematic framework for examining the complex forms of transition in all its guises – from one place to another, from one state to another, from one memory to another, and from one perceptual state to another – as a general narrative to describe our human, cultural and communicative existence today. The Biennial presents expanded moving image artworks from a broad international range of artists dealing with current complexities relating to migration. Their works reflect deeply upon journeys, diasporas and post-colonialism, transformation of place, and ‘alien’ realities.
We have recently witnessed, as a symptom emerging from roughly twenty years of globalisation, that parts of the world have been closing in on themselves while cultivating nostalgic perceptions of history and cultural origin. As the connectivity of the world’s economies and cultures grew in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the interchange of world views, ideas and cultures strengthened a sense of a global ‘we’, which, with the evolution of the Internet, became connected in a global ‘now’. In Europe, progressive visions of a region without borders facilitated optimism and an identification with migration and free movement in younger generations, while the pressure from citizens frustrated with work migration, right-wing sympathisers and older generations fearful of the insecurities of a globalised world – alongside increasing refugee migration from the Middle East in particular – has recently led to a need for a redefinition of borders. Brexit, walls, rising populism and support of far-right and nationalist parties challenge a crumbling European dream of migration as synonymous with openness, connectivity and exchange. The current climate of distrust and scepticism towards globalisation is inducing the collapse of dreams and the shuttering up of countries. The idea of migration is trapped in the gap between a vision of global co-existence and fear of the other.
I wrote the curatorial statement and curated the biennial together with Daniela Arriado, and organized the biennial’s research program.
More about the biennial and full text: http://2017.screencitybiennial.org/migrating-stories/