Project about the globalization of migration

One year ago, I have started a research on the adaptation of migrants to the global culture of fast growing cities and megalopolis and specifically the question of home in the globalization of migration. This universal topic whose main current concern is where and what is home, had probably a personal echo has I knew one day I would have to leave what I considered as home and deal myself with the feeling of exil again.Then, or the first time in my artistic life, I was walking blind because my inspiration was not anymore depending on me but the others. I had always had very precise ideas and pictures in my mind of what I wanted to produce but this time, I had to  listen to first. So I started to listen to the infinity of singular migrants stories and choose the specific pictures in their stories that capture my attention. I have been interviewing and filming people who are settled in the city of Dar es Salaam since one or several generations to try to understand how they integrate parts of the new environnement while preserving their own cultural particularisms and singularities from an assimilation by a new global culture. What do they give and receive or how moves of people and migratory flux can influence culture.

I realized quickly that this very simple question of HOME was much more emotional that what I would thought. Indeed, with the globalization of migrations, the concept  of home is being redefined everywhere in the world bringing out other strong meanings as belonging, attachement and roots.On parallel, my research about time is still ongoing, now with the added questions of rooting and uprooting with a philosophical and psychological point of view. These questions are especially important in the way we all deal with the call of somewhere else and the need to feel our own roots, in the Third Culture Kids phenomenon to understand the way migrants keep on transmitting their culture to their children in a new host country. What is our heritage ? Can roots and traditions vanish with memories ? What is the effect of time in belonging and attachement ? Is the nostalgia innate or learnt? Is our soul destined to be divide.

« There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in »

Many horizons, many destinies (engraving on glass)

I arrived in the city of Dar es Salaam eleven years ago. This megalopolis, between tradition and modernity, nature and anachronic urbanism, has immediately started to fascinate me as a pure symbol of hybrid cultures. As I have always loved to observe maps, I started to be attracted by the urbanistic changes (flows of migration) induced by historic changes of Dar es Salaam and their social impact.

Borders (engraving on glass)

Borders tend to distend, borders tend to dissolve. Symplifying a problem by finding scapegoats is a delusion. It is like refusing to observe reality with the eyes of humanity. Despite growing demonstrations of protectionism, nationalism and racism, there will always be only one world. We are all interested parties and it is time to redefine what is common between us. By essence, we are not born to live enclosed in one identity or culture. And to live with others supposes shared origins in vulnerability. This vulnerability has to be lived and understood as a way to weave links and create solidarity not to destroy. The history we have been given and the one we are building everyday lies on ignorance, omissions and failures. Now we can begin to be conscious of the complexity of our modernity. We have to stitch all those discontinuities and breaches to create a common world, however fragile and precarious it may be – that depends on the will, choice, imagination and creativity of humanity. In reality, what we call identity is not essential ; we are all passers-by while an emerging universal conscience is coming out, the reality of a new community with the same destiny should take it over the cult of difference.

Circulation (engraving on glass)

The more we close the borders, the more people will settle as they are not able to move on or to go back anymore, being irrugelar. The more we open the borders, the more we free the circulation or migration. It is common sense but what is happening in the world now seems to go in the opposite direction which is nonsense. For me, the idea of borders itself is difficult to accept (and even more the idea of material possession of land) as it is where most of the conflicts start. With the demographic current changes in the world (aging of the developed nothern countries and the very young average age of countries in developement) the situation might change quicker than we think. It will be a nice potential return of the situation to see those countries which use to select the entrances finally compete and beg for migrants.

Daraja la utamaduni (installation)

The aim of an art residency is to take time out of the time to create but also to exchange with local artists. That is how I decided to do this installation as a tunnel to dig and question my personnal link to the subject. Roots and belonging had already been part of my work. The very basic question of home is much more complex that what we want to trust and we are not as simple as we would like to seem but made of complex branches and connections, places where we have lived, people we have met, as a spider web. For this project, I worked with the amazing Wachata Graffiti Crew who embarked my foggy idea and who understand it as a bridge or the best way to link two cultures or artistic worlds. It is a collaborative work and every artist at Nafasi has been welcomed to add (weave, tight, draw) his own piece to the puzzle.

Residency in Beijing – rural migration

During my residency at the Red Gate in Beijing, I have been particularly interested in rural migration and meeting population from the Hutong. These labyrinths of ancient alleys whose population is essentially composed by migrants, tend to be torn down by a rapid program of modernization. Fascinated by the contradiction between tradition and modernity, I have been walking in these areas of the city which are threatened by gentrification and the lack of preservation of urban heritage and minorities. While walking, I was observing the walls and grounds to reproduce the details in drawings and engravings. I was looking after the organic and abstract patterns, textures of the city to create a modern interpretation of chinese and mixed heritage. As I think we are shaped by the places in which we have lived in, I have also explored my experience and feelings of Beijing city. The abstract is the best way for me to synthesize theorical researches and concerns with my love for cities’ patterns on paper and on the ambivalent medium of plexiglass to play with transparencies and shadows.

Space’s nostalgia (canvas)

Topographic maps look like fingerprints, Hutong mapsbear some ressemblance to QR codes which could evoke the identity of a place. At the door of a foreign world, in the morn of a new era where borders and migration’s poles are eternally changing, is there still a link between roots of an identity, between walls and the building of the self ? There are undoubtedly as much as answers than indivuals. I have known persons who have never felt nostalgia for a place. I have met people who have an optimism without borders, an aptitude to happiness in the movement and even in the most impersonal that travel can wear. During my residency, I have personnaly experimented the nostalgia of my somewhere which is called homesickness in English while I don’t really know where is my home. In a personnal situation of transition, I have experienced the feeling of exile, probably a bit illegitimate, but also the feeling of not belonging or perhaps the conscience to belong to something vaster.

Walls (plexiglass engraving)

Observe. Search the tiny details calcified in the ground, imbedded in the façades to draw the walls’ vegetality out and give back its place to the infinite beauty of singularities and defects. Engrave. Scratch to reproduce thoroughly the picture which has persisted in the eye and create living organisms. The wall are a skin/The skin is a Memory… connecting us to ourselves and interconnecting us with others. It is what is gathering us. Like skin which tells our individual stories, the walls are transmiting a collective memory.