YOU ARE BUT YOU ARE NOT – The Research
In the first half of the year several fieldwork visits took place. During this research period Kolar Aparna and Beatrice Catanzaro with representatives from various local aid organizations and civil society members, activists, politicians and scientists, in order to discuss perceptions, ideas and experiences relating to issues of migration at local and international levels.
To conclude the long term residency (2016 – 2017) on borders and migrations by Kolar Aparna (geographer, NL) and Beatrice Catanzaro (artist, IT) the audio track YOU ARE BUT YOU ARE NOT has been launched in May. The audio drama is trilingual, consists of three chapters and it is conceived as a permanent intervention for the city of Bolzano/Bozen. It starts at the train station and from where it guides the listener along the „borders“ of the city on a given route through the area of the train station to the Rosegger Park in front of the Questura (state police station).
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.
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.
In the first half of the year several fieldwork visits took place. During this first research period Kolar Aparna and Beatrice Catanzaro met representatives from various local aid organizations and civil society members, activists, politicians and scientists, in order to discuss perceptions, ideas and experiences relating to issues of migration at local and international levels.
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.
The first public event within the framework of the residency with Beatrice Catanzaro and Kolar Aparna took place on June 30th at 7pm.
During the evening the artist and the two geographers shared the creative process that they followed. 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 discussed 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 has been 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 served as the basis for an artistic work that took the form of a participative process in the autumn of 2016.
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.
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 contributed to the content of the audio piece “You are but You are Not”, that has been launched in spring 2017.
Between June 27 and July 4 the Lungomare residents Kolar Aparna, Beatrice Catanzaro and Mehbratu Efrem Gebreab spend a research period in Bolzano.
In occasion of their 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 has been presented at Lungomare in autumn 2016.
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 following months we continued to explore these questions more actively with key actors in public spaces in Bolzano to develop our project, which concretized in the production an audio-guide running in the city. Through this audio-guide we call for listening as an active political participation and action urgently needed in these times.
Lungomare, a cultural association founded in Bolzano in 2003, was created from the desire and necessity to open a space in which to share differences, experiences, opinions and desires, a space in which to make the link between cultural production and the political and social dimension. Lungomare undertakes projects that investigate and test possible relationships between design, architecture, urban planning, art and theory, the results of which are presented in different formats: public discussions, conferences, publications, exhibitions and interventions in public spaces. All these formats are characterised by the intention to interact with cultural and socio-political processes relating to the region in which Lungomare is located.
Currently Lungomare’s activities focus on long-term residency projects, a format whereby Lungomare invites guests to engage and interact within the context of South Tyrol. Lungomare’s activities are based on three principles: specific attention to the context in which the association’s projects are undertaken, the transdisciplinary approach that distinguishes these projects, and reflection on the role of Lungomare as a cultural institution in connection with the region in which it operates.
2003 Angelika Burtscher and Daniele Lupo found Lungomare
2003 – 2005 curators: Patrizia Bertolini, Angelika Burtscher, Roberto Gigliotti, Manuela Demattio, Paul Peter Hofer, Brita Köhler, Daniele Lupo
2005 – 2013 curators: Angelika Burtscher e Daniele Lupo
2011 – 2013 a new scientific committee is established: Angelika Burtscher, Roberto Gigliotti, Daniele Lupo, Vincenzo Mancuso, Lisa Mazza, Paolo Plotegher, Heimo Prünster
from 2014 curators: Angelika Burtscher, Roberto Gigliotti, Daniele Lupo, Lisa Mazza, Paolo Plotegher
2014 start of the Lungomare residency programme
Lungomare is located at the edge of Bolzano, the capital of South Tyrol, and relates to the context in which it operates, attempting to highlight the dynamics of change. Large urbanized areas alternate with broad areas of intensive cultivation and yet others of picturesque landscape, all of which penetrate the centre of the city. The city is surrounded by mountains and this is one of the reasons why the tourism industry has become a driving force in this locality. The demographic structure of the city has been characterized for a long time by the coexistence of two populations, those speaking German and those speaking Italian. However, the social and demographic composition of Alto Adige Südtirol is changing. Migrants, including those from non-European countries are making their way to the area to settle, whilst others, including political refugees, are flowing through the region.