European Alternatives lead Re-Build Refuge Europe, a project that brought together partners from the UK, Sweden, Spain, Finland and Germany, and Greece. It aimed to counteract the dominant discourses of ‘crisis’ and ‘threat’ by using art, culture and innovative practices allowing European citizens and refugees to learn from each other as equals. Activities of the project included storytelling, training and workshops for participants and the digital arts. Interim and final results of the project were exhibited and performed during the Athens Biennale 2017 and TRANSEUROPA Festival 2017 in Madrid.
The recent influx of refugees in Europe, mostly from the Middle East and Northern African countries, is widely interpreted in media and political discourse as a crisis and a threat. In several national elections the extreme right and openly xenophobic parties have gained substantive support. Re-build Refuge Europe’s objective is to counteract this discourse and beliefs. It builds on creative cultural proposals and offers spaces for processes of co-creation to be developed, in which refugees and migrants are considered as a constitutive part of the remaking of European communities.
Actions to support the recent newcomers are mushrooming all over Europe, often focusing by necessity on aid, social and economic support. We believe that it is the cultural role and duty of Europe to welcome refugees properly and to allow for cultural hybridisation to happen. We believe that only by fully realising the potential of cultural hybridisation and by being a welcoming and supportive area will Europe build a secure society for its future, inside and outside its borders.
The project Re-build Refuge Europe provides the space to link up cultural actors and societal actors mobilised in different corners of Europe to exchange and build new practices. This project produces innovative practices that allow European citizens and refugees to work together on equal footing and learn from each other. It also uses a creative mix of mediums to raise European citizens’ knowledge of issues at stake for refugees and in making Europe a place of Refuge where all people can feel safe.
The Creative Europe programme funds activities that recognise and celebrate the contribution refugees and migrants make to cultural diversity in Europe. Culture can be a means for refugees and migrants to meet, communicate with and become part of existing communities.
TALK REAL – ART REAL SERIES
Talk Real presents ‘Talk Real – Art Real’, a series of episodes on artistic projects and social practices from grassroots movements that aim to counteract the dominant discourses of crisis and threat in the so-called “refugee crisis”. In the first episode of the series, Talk Real travels to Athens, one of the places where the economic, political, social, and cultural dilemmas that Europe faces are expressed more broadly, to meet some of the local experiences that are working to create in the city a safe and welcoming place. How are art and artists changing perspectives on migration in the city? What local experiences are self-organising to give responses to the passivity of the institutions? What artistic projects and artists are tackling the refugee emergency through their work?
In the second episode of the series, Talk Real travels to Madrid in the context of TRANSEUROPA 2017, to meet some of the artists and speakers that participated in this edition of the Festival and analyse the local context in the city of Madrid. How are the local institutions giving responses to the block of the national government to accept refugees in the country? How are art and artists changing perspectives on migration in the city? What other initiatives are helping to shift discourses and narratives about migration?
In the third episode of the series, Talk Real travels to Gothenburg in the context of the Illegal Festival organised by the Museum of World Culture to discuss about the role of artistic institutions in opening spaces to change ideas about migration.
Digital storytelling – iHopP in Gothenburg
WHAT IS YOUR STORY? iHopP is a creative project led by the National Museums of World Culture with the aim to create an intercultural dialogue platform to facilitate integration of newcomers and local community members. The word “iHopP” is a mash-up of the Swedish words “ihop” (together) and “hopp” (hope). In iHopP, we used digital storytelling for the voices to get heard and to give meaning and context to the participants’ experiences. We filmed more than 20 stories in Gothenburg in 2017. Each story is one minute long. Workshop curator: Linda Tedsdotter (Visual artist, organizer and teacher). Storytelling workshop with expert Jerk Elmen.
iHopp was selected among 8 best practices on facilitating integration and presented at Global Compact on Migration on 18 May at UN Headquarters.
On May 18 2018 the NGO Committee on Migration, together with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), hosted a side event during the 4th round of negotiations on the Global Compact for Migration, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The event highlighted eight good practices including #iHopp implemented in five different regions of the globe, which are aimed at combating xenophobia and promoting the social inclusion of migrants and refugees in their host communities. This video is a compilation of the contributions sent by these eight good practices. The above-mentioned event was recorded and can be found at the UN Web TV.
TRANSEUROPA is a transnational artistic, cultural and political festival organised by European Alternatives since 2007. In the past decade, TRANSEUROPA has attracted thousands of attendees and active participants through a decentralised event structure in over a dozen European cities and a high profile moment in one city. For the 2017 edition, Convergent Spaces, the main city for TRANSEUROPA is Madrid. Partners of Re-Build Refuge Europe reunited with artists and curators to present and exhibit part of their projects and artistic productions.