BIO ROB 20 18
5’33” – 2015
BIO ROB 20 18 is a track that explores the immigration policy of the European community. Can you tell us more about this work and about the context in which it was developed?
In the summer of 2015, I was invited by Caroline Ruijgrok en Bernke Zandvoort as one of six speakers at the symposium Tussen zwerven en wonen (Between wandering and living), part of their project Object Observer. Their main subject was the house and the way objects in there relate to our identity, how we look at the world outside and how this influences our behavior.
My contribution to this symposium was based on my personal experiences as illegal domestic worker in a West European country and developed into criticism towards the migration policy of the EU. The illegal existence of a migrant means always her/his marginalization and exclusion of the political life in a certain country; it means that someone is bereaved from her social value, identity and turned into a body, that must be invisible while performing as such, must be patient, polite, and thankful, it confirms, bows down and adores. As illegal migrant you have no rights, for defined maximum working hours, a fixed minimum wage, paid leave, provision of food and accommodation, weekly rest periods etc.. As a deprived body you have no family or parents, you don’t have to be loved. This is how BIO ROB 20 18 came into existence, introduced by Europe Enterprise and Bio Engineering Ltd (metaphor for the European Union) and brought as an object to the houses of the wealthy European citizens.
It was born out of all these questions: who belongs where? Whom we welcome to enter our private spaces and under what conditions? Who is responsible for policies that are defining human beings as “illegal”, rejecting to recognize them as citizens? Legal citizens with equal rights, are we aware of our responsibilities for ourselves and for the others? And finally what does it mean “a better life”?
How does this work fit within your artistic research?
The initial interest in migration was developed in my work after long-lasting experience and observations as an Eastern European migrant in Western Europe. I have established a position as citizen that I express in my projects and opposes the constant attempts of media and politicians to build and consolidate a negative image of migrants as uncivilized, useless and unproductive people. These clichés are creating a lot of tension among the local population and at the same time, marginalize and objectify the 232 million people that belong to the migrant group.
We are very interested in the dimension of the collective listening, as it happened in the early decades of radio broadcasts. In which occasions of the past did you present it, and how do you think this mode of presentation can influence the content of what will be heard?
As I mentioned above, this work was originally presented for collective listening in Castrum Peregrini: a WWII safehouse in the city centre of Amsterdam as part of the symposium Tussen zwerven en wonen (Between wandering and living). The owner of this house, the artist Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht (1912 – 2013) offered young intellectuals and artists refuge in her house. Today Castrum Peregrini became a foundation dedicated to- and “has an unequivocal belief in a society where nobody is excluded and that embraces diversity and equality as conditions for progress.”