Place

Bolzano

Curated by

Lungomare

Participants
Collaborators
Methodologies

Our project began with the invitation of the curators of Lungomare based in Bolzano to work on issues related to “Migration and Society” given the context of the refugee movements and the politicization of the Italian/Austrian border in this region of Alto Adige/Südtirol.

We began with a series of conversations with multiple actors in and beyond Bolzano (also based on our own social networks in Milan, Nijmegen, Turin, among others) involved in everyday work of asylum processes (actors involved in applications for asylum, volunteers involved in citizen initiatives as well as part of refugee support organizations, lawyers, academics, activists, among others) and migrants applying for refugee status. Below are some of the important approaches framing our methodological processes.

Deviating from hegemonic frames of research: Deviating from “Migration”
Despite being invited to address the topic of “migration” we deviated from the term as much as possible in our initial conversations with local actors in Bolzano involved in migrant/refugee support. Given the highly politicized nature of immigration in Europe we were looking for frames that speak from an everyday, embodied, inter-subjective dimension. Metaphors rather than frames allowed us to map our conversations in an open-ended way leaving room for transformative processes both conceptually as well as processually (in being able to incorporate narratives that would otherwise become hidden). This meant that we were able to trigger reflections on the deeper emotional, relational and embodied consequences of everyday work of actors rather than limited to the understanding of bureaucratic processes underpinning asylum migration in Europe today.

Entangling biographies:
Rather than seeking to capture ethnographic details of ‘the Other’ (for example, the refugee, the volunteer, the migrant, the police etc), our approach involved processes of entangling biographies to create relational processes starting from our own with those of actors we came into dialogue with. This means that biographies rather than emerging as individualized, emerge in relational processes of resonance.

Opening up spaces of critical reflection within “emergency” work of refugee support:
In our shared conversations with actors working with-their-feet and on-the-ground in refugee support, especially since 2014, we felt the strong need for spaces of critical reflection despite the environment of “emergency” in which refugee support is being carried out.

Emotional dilemmas involved in refugee support, conflicting intentionalities between actors, problems of what kind of information to exchange in a shifting political landscape, need for multilingual capacities, among others, that are often neglected in emergency settings of refugee support, emerged as important reflective processes.

The project continues to build on these processes to create multiple forms of participatorial moments in semi-public and public spaces in the city of Bolzano to be launched in spring 2017.

On site
Refugee Biographies

At the beginning of May the Eritrean geographer, Mehbratu Ephrem Gebreab joined the team and started to work together with Beatrice Catanzaro and Kolar Aparna on the project’s further phases. Their journey to the research week held in Bolzano was already documented by Beatrice Catanzaro and Kolar Aparna, together with Mehbratu Ephrem Gebreab: They completed part of Mehbratus’s escape route (from Eritrea via Bolzano to the Netherlands), only in reverse, and exchanged their experiences and impressions. In Bolzano, the three-man team continued its investigation of refugees’ biographies. They spoke with representatives from various institutions about the processing of these life stories for asylum applications.

A metaphorical approach to the subject of migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano

The first public event within the framework of the residency with Beatrice Catanzaro and Kolar Aparna will be held on June 30th at 7pm.

During the evening the artist and the two geographers will share the creative process that they have followed so far. This process is organized around the following metaphors: “Metamorphosis”, from a geological perspective; “Hegemonic Passages”, drawing on experiences of legal and bureaucratic ambiguities that can be interpreted as a form of violence; “In/Visibility of borders”, based on personal narratives of crossing geopolitical borders within and beyond Europe; “Sense of Place”, based on the discrepancy between perceived and lived reality; “Collective Narcissism”, referring to historical and contemporary projections of the self in the context of welcoming the Other; and finally, “Postcolonial Torment”, that draws on personal as well as theoretical reflections on historical continuity and the transformation of migratory relations.

Together with Iain Chambers and the Eritrean geographer Mehbratu Efrem Gebreab we will discuss the political consequences of working with these metaphors and their power to open up future scenarios of territories, migration, and borders.

The public meeting in June will be followed by a day workshop with refugees, civil society representatives, lawyers, local aid organization representatives, activists, national NGO representatives, and scientists. For the artist and two geographers, the material collected up to this point will serve as the basis for an artistic work that will take the form of a participative process in the autumn of 2016.

Iain Chambers
is presently Professor of Cultural and Postcolonial Studies at the Oriental University in Naples, where he has been Director of the Centre for Postcolonial Studies. He is known for his interdisciplinary and intercultural work on music, popular and metropolitan cultures. More recently he has transformed this line of research into a series of postcolonial analyses on the formation of the modern Mediterranean.

1 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 2 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 3 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 4 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 5 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 6 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 7 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 8 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 9 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 10 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 11 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 12 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 13 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 14 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 15 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 16 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 17 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 18 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 19 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 20 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 21 / 24 Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders: Voices from Bolzano, Photo: Ivo Corrà, 2016 22 / 24 Kolar Aparna, Beatrice Catanzaro: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders, Photo: Lungomare 2016 23 / 24 Kolar Aparna, Beatrice Catanzaro: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders, Photo: Lungomare 2016 24 / 24 Kolar Aparna, Beatrice Catanzaro: A metaphorical approach to migration and borders, Photo: Lungomare 2016
Workshop

As part of the yearlong research based residency in Lungomare, Beatrice Catanzaro, Kolar Aparna and Mehbratu Ephrem Gebreab initiated a one day workshop with some of the interlocutors they have carried out their research with, in Bolzano and beyond. The workshop, on the broad theme of Borders, Migration and Hegemonic Hospitality, was held on the 2nd of July 2016 and organized to inform and share the artistic research practice with new insights, grounded in a metaphorical and experiential look at migratory movements. The workshop aimed at fostering the participatory dimension of the artistic investigation.

A dozen of participants were invited to engage in a reflective process departing from three main moments of contributions: a Geological perspective on migratory movements by Benno Baumgarten, Natural Science Museum of Bolzano; a Geographical and Experiential perspective on Borders by Mehbratu Efrem Gebreab, geographer and refugee; a Historical perspective on migration at the time of the Roman Empire, by Francesco Strocchi, PhD Candidate at UCL.

Each contribution was followed by short processes of embodiment, reflection and biographical convergences, aiming at entering the theme of migration with new understandings.

The gathered knowledge and insights will contribute to the content of the audio piece “You are but You are Not”, to be launched in spring 2017.

Reflections

Between June 27 and July 4 the Lungomare residents Kolar Aparna, Beatrice Catanzaro and Mehbratu Efrem Gebreab spend a research period in Bolzano.
On the occasion of this stay a performative conference with the participation of Iain Chambers from the Centro di Studi Postcoloniali e di Genere dell’Università degli Studi di Napoli l’Orientale was organized as well as a workshop behind closed doors geared towards elaborating further the final project that will be presented at Lungomare later this year in autumn.
During our work at Lungomare the news of the drowning in the Mediterranean and the terroristic attacks in Bangladesh reached us. The following short text summarizes and contextualizes the poetic metaphorical approach, that lies at the base of the project, to what is currently happening here and elsewhere.

5th July, 2016
As boats with hundreds of people from Eritrea, eEthiopia and Somalia are being identified to have lost their lives in the Meditteranean, and simultaneously, ‘Italians’ are being identified as being killed in the bombings in Bangladesh, our evening presentation on Thursday in Lungomare, Bolzano takes on a deeper meaning.

Having organised our evening’s presentation based on some important questions such as: Where are you? What are you leaving behind? Who is the Other? Where is the Border? each of these questions emerge as not just an abstract indulgence but become real lived existential questions today in and beyond Bolzano and Europe.

The here and there continues to get blurred. Are we in Bolzano or near the Mediterranean when we hear the news or stories of people having crossed the deadly sea narrated by our friends from Hotel Alpi while sitting on a bench in the Walther square in Bolzano?

Whether one migrates to another country or not, what legacies of human relations will we leave behind for the next generations in today’s context of borders, deaths and xenophobia engulfing us?

Where is the border? With the uncertain clouds of BREXIT hanging over us, and stories of frustrations in refugee-support hidden underneath the beautiful landscape of Bolzano, EUrope’s borders are not only in the Mediterranean or Ukraine but in fact at the heart of everyday life, here and there.

And yet, Who is the Other? In exploring migratory stories in an intimate space in Lungomare with people from diverse backgrounds dealing with the asylum-system either as a refugee, or from the juridical side such as a protection officer from UNHCR, to volunteers from voluntarius, and citizen initiatives from Binario Uno, what emerged at the end of the evening was that the differentiations between a ‘Bolzanino’ and ‘the migrant’ was blurred in terms of everyone sharing stories of migration, or travel in their family or recent history.

In the months to come we wish to continue to explore these questions more actively with key actors in public spaces in Bolzano to develop our project, which will be part of the production an audio-guide running in the city. Through this audio-guide we aim to call for listening as an active political participation and action urgently needed in these times.

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