Going the Distance
Video Work in Migratory Aesthetics by Mieke Bal
5 December 2008 - 12 February 2009, Tampere Art Museum, Tampere Finland
also 12 - 21 December 2008, The Fibonacci Centre, Fremantle, Australia
This three-part exhibition is my first solo exhibition, and the venue, the city museum of Art in Tampere, is a brilliant site for it. I was offered the entire first floor of the museum. During the same time period, a somewhat smaller version of this exhibition was displayed in Western Australia. The exhibition proposes a close look at migratory culture. Through a multitude of stories, the works facilitate an intimate connection between long-term residents of the wealthier countries and new arrivals looking for a better, safer, livable future. The works address the enriching quality of the resulting migratory culture.
Nothing is Missing invites visitors into a living room where video portraits of mothers tell us about the child who left. The emptiness in the home of origin is thus brought into the homey atmosphere where we all stock up for life. The installation has never been so generously installed in a space that was both generic and tasteful. It occupied about one third of the exhibition space. Just outside it, two additional elements, the “learning to write” nooks of children I have called Mektoub (the Arabic for both writing and destiny), and a voice piece in which the life history of one of the mothers, Ümmühan from Turkey, is read by a local (Finnish) voice with a slight foreign accent.
GLUB (Hearts), an installation, considers the aesthetic consequences of migratory culture for the urban centers, literally from the bottom up. The symbolic meaning of sunflower seeds as embodiment of diaspora leads to drastic transformations in Berlin’s public space.
The collection of experimental documentaries I have title “Migratory stories” looks at the changes in the countries of arrival, the difficulties their inhabitants unwittingly erect where the old value of hospitality vies with jealously guarded privileges. Economic, administrative, cultural, and linguistic forms of boundary-policing are shown through the eyes of those who are kept at the other side. Migratory stories contains the following films on which you find information, clips and stills elswhere on this website if you just click the links: Becoming Vera, Colony, Mille et un Jours, Un trabajo limpio, Road Movie, Rockefeller Boulevard and Access Denied.