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Salon Fluchthilfe, as part of Utopia Pulse – Flares in the Darkroom – toured to Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, June 2015.

Salon Fluchthilfe, curated by Zanny Begg
Part of Utopian Pulse – Flares in the Darkroom,
Initiated by Oliver Ressler and Ines Doujak
The Secession, Vienna,
October 1-7, 2014

Utopia is often imagined as a desireable and elusive place. In Salon Fluchthilfe it is imagined not so much as a place (with borders) but as a journey or non-place (defined by its borderlessness). The German word fluchthilfe has no easy English translation – it is a positive term used to describe those who help others cross borders to escape persecution (whereas English has only derogatory translations, such as people smugglers or human traffickers). This exhibition is located within the politics of contemporary refugee struggles but aims to challenge the binaries of refugee/citizen that have framed this debate.

Salon Fluchthilfe eludes a neat connection to any specific identity by encompassing both refugees and their supporters who form an underground web of knowledge and support that allows bodies to move. Salon Fluchthilfe will explore the potencia of relationships based on hospitality, solidarity and reciprocity. In a context defined by borders, camps and check-points this exhibition perversely explores the utopia of borderlessness.

Exhibition participants:

Barat Ali Batoor
The Silent University
Katarzyna Izabela Winiecka
Mindj Panther
Undrawing the Line
Pilar Mata Dupont
Escape from Woomera
Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson
Mariam Ghani

Artist Biographies:

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Barat Ali Batoor, The Unseen Road to Asylum, photographic series, 2013

Barat Ali Batoor was born in Pakistan in 1983 in a family that was driven out of Afghanistan by the civil war. He returned to Afghanistan for the first time after September 11, 2001. Batoor started photographing in 2002 and launched his first solo exhibition in 2007. His works are published in journals such as The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Afghanistan Times and he was the recipient of a photography grant from New York’s Open Society Institute for the project “Child Trafficking in Afghanistan/The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan”. Batoor’s photograph “The first day at sea” was named the 2013 Nikon-Walkley Photo of the Year and he was awarded the 2014 Communication for Social Change Award by the University of Queensland. For this exhibition he will include The Unseen Road to Asylum, documentation of his own attempted journey to Australia by boat.

The Silent University, installation shot, the Secession, Vienna

The Silent University is an autonomous knowledge exchange platform by refugees, asylum seekers and migrants with Academic background. It is led by a group of lecturers, consultants and research fellows. The Silent University was initiated by the Turkish artist Ahmet Ögüt. For this exhibition The Silent University will present two lectures Who are Ezidi Kurds? by Sherko Jahani Asl and Grounds for Asylum According to the 1951 Convention by Noory Fakhry (Rebwar). Sherko Jahani is a political refugee from Mahabad, Iranian Kurdistan. He is a journalist, writer, human rights activist, Kurdish Language Teacher and photographer. Noory Fakhry (Rebwar) is an Asylum Seeker from Iranian Kurdistan. He received his master degree on International Human Rights at Lund University.

Pilar Mata Dupont, Purgatorio still, 2014.

Pilar Mata Dupont is an artist based between Australia and the Netherlands. She has recently shown her work in group shows at the Seoul Museum of Art; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; Akademie der Künst, Berlin; the 17th Biennale of Sydney; and opened a solo show at the Rappu Gallery in the Pori Art Museum, Finland. Her practice spans video, performance, and photography, investigating ideas of national identity, mythology, parable, and the triggers of nostalgia.Her work for this exhibition was developed through interviews with asylum seekers and refugees in Western Sydney, as well as interviews with staff at the UNHCR, and the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Undrawing the line, is a collective formed by refugees and supporters who seek to challenge the limits of border politics in Australia (and beyond). Lead artists for this project are Mona Moradveisi, Safdar Ahmed, Zanny Begg and Murtaza Ali Jafari with the participation of Bashir Ahmed, Mansoora Gulzari, Parastoo Bahrami, Neda Bahrami, Mohammad, Madina Sayer, Farnaz Yegan, Kamaleshwaran Selladurai, Susie Egg, Daminda Ehsan and Tabarak (some names have been changed for participant’s security). Drawings were produced through workshops hosted byThe Refugee Art Project in detention centres and in community detention and focus on the story of the Waq Waq tree. Waq Waq is a 13th century Islamic equivalent of utopia – a non-place at the end of the known world. The Waq Waq Tree grows human fruit who can speak of the future.

Katarzyna Izabela Winiecka, installation shot, the Secession, Vienna.

Katarzyna Winiecka works in participatory, collective and individual projects focusing on questions of visibility and representation, resistance and practices of emancipation in an educational and social-political context, often in the field of migration, history and public space. Winiecka is currently a member of various working groups of the refugee protest in Vienna.

Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson are based in Rotterdam and Berlin. The artists have been collaborating since 1997 with a conceptual and multidisciplinary approach and a contextual and site related practice Libia and Ólafur’s works go from the creation of situations and experiential environments, to interventions, sculpture, video and photography. Their project for this exhibition, Bosbolobosboco #6 (Departure–Transit–Arrival), was developed in Sydney, with the Refugee Art Project, for the Biennale of Sydney and was one of the works initially withdrawn from the biennale over concerns with the sponsorship of Transfield, a company involved in offshore mandatory detention of refugees on Manus Island and Narau.

Escape From Woomera was developed ten years ago as a prototype for a computer game where participants stage a virtual break out from Woomera Detention Centre (now closed). The game was very controversial when launched and was never fully developed, remaining in the prototype form. The detention policies it depicts have, however, remained entirely current a decade later. Creative director: Katharine Neil. Researcher/investigative journalist: Kate Wild. Animators: Andrea Blundell Chris Markwart, Programmers: Matthew Jones David Jewsbury Duncan Murray, Katharine Neil, Producers: Justin Halliday and Mark Angeli, Executive producer: Julian Oliver.

Mariam Ghani lives in New York and has been working with the Afghan Film Archive documenting unfinished films in Afghanistan. Her exhibitions and screenings include the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011), Sharjah Biennials 10 and 9 (2011, 2009), National Gallery, Washington DC (2008), Tate Modern, London (2007), EMAP, Seoul (2005), Liverpool Biennial (2004), and transmediale, Berlin (2003). Public projects have been commissioned by Creative Time and the Arab American National Museum, among others. Reflecting on the unfinished nature of utopia she will include posters for unfinished films in Afghanistan.

Mindj Panther, Roma Armee Fraktion.

Public Forum: October 7, 6pm

Organised by Marissa Lôbo and Marina Gržinić.

Speakers Khan Adalat, Ilker Ataç, Clifford A. Erinmwionghae, Njideka Stephanie Iroh, Ines Mahmoud and Gin Müller.

This forum will discuss how in the period after the Fall of the Berlin wall and 9/11 capitalist discourse has shifted from protection of human rights into a policy of bare life, seclusions and deportations of refugees and asylum seekers. The refugee movement in Vienna in 2012 showed a power of self-mobilization and self-articulation. The self-organized refugee protest movement, that was supported immediately by many activists and students from the Academy of  Fine Arts  in Vienna, has been put under harsh  pressure and  criminalization procedures. Discussions will include the reproduction of white supremacy within the Refugee Protest Camp Vienna, the methods of criminalization of the refugees by the Austrian state repressive apparatuses and the hypocrisy of EU politics.

Speakers:

Khan Adalat is a refuge and activist.

Ilker Ataç is a political scientist at the University of Vienna; researching on migration policy and self-organized and anti-racist movements. He was involved in Kanak Attak and the First March Transnational Migrant strike.

Clifford Erinmwionghae is a migrant and activist that lives more than a decade in Austria.

Marina Gržinić is professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, artist, philosopher and writer.

Njideka Stephanie Iroh is spoken word artist/poet currently studying and working in Vienna. She is part of the Research Group on Black Austrian History and Presence and the self-organization Pamoja – The Movement of the young African Diaspora in Austria. Her work processes involve Black empowerment focusing on youth in the context of resistance and decolonization.

Marissa Lôbo is an artist, activist that works for and in Maiz ( Self-organization – Participation – Autonomy – Resistance – Transformation – Utopia) an independent organization by and for migrant women. Marissa Lôbo finished her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 2014. She is the recipient of the main Academy award in 2014 for her MA diploma work/performance on structural racism and colonialism.

Ines Mahmoud is currently finishing her studies in political science in Vienna. She is political activist/poet and has written her bachelor thesis about reproductions of white supremacy within the Refugee Protest Camp Vienna. Her main interests include migration, Islam, decolonialization, pan Arabism.

Gin Müller (Dr.Phil.) lives in Vienna. Müller works as a dramaturge, Performer, Theorist, Lecturer at the University of Vienna and is an activist. In April 2008 Gin Müller book was published: „Possen des Performativen, Theater, Aktivismus und queere Politiken“, republicart 7, Wien: Turia+ Kant.

Review by Miguel Amado, Artforum, October, 2014

Funding:

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

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