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Who Are We?

The New Union Flag by Gil Mualem Doron image
The New Union Flag by Gil Mualem Doron

CCIG plays key role in week of free events at Tate Modern to challenge the fastening of Europe's borders against real – and imagined – 'others'.

As Europe increasingly fastens its borders against real and imagined ‘others’, CCIG played a key role in supporting a week of free events at Tate Modern to challenge this position. The programme, which included participatory arts, films, visual arts, installations, conversations and learning labs, set out to engage with the question 'Who Are We?', and artists and practitioners from around the world contributed to the debate.

The event was part of the Tate Exchange initiative, designed to bring more diverse audiences to the Tate as well as engage more interactively with those audiences. As such, the event became a space for everyone to collaborate, test ideas and discover new perspectives on life through art. Who Are We? offered participants the opportunity to reflect on identity, belonging, migration and citizenship. Within the OU CCIG was a major funder, and members Marie Gillespie, Umut Erel, Agnes Czajka and Lisa Pilgram all took part.

Marie and artists Elena Boukouvala and Knut Bry, who met while they were volunteering at Pikpa refugee camp in Lesvos last year, decided to work together to tell the story of the refugee experience in a new way. The result was Dialogues Across Borders, an interactive exhibition sparked from the friendships forged between volunteers and refugee artists. In a series of workshops, the sharing of voices through poetry, art and music created an environment for cross-cultural exchange in which the audience was invited to make their own art in response, building an evolving web of dialogues across borders.

Teaser by photographer Knut Bry for Dialogues Across Borders

Agnes Czajka, meanwhile, collaborated with artist Nele Vos whose installation Citizenshop, which highlights how citizenship can be bought, drew attention to the differential price and value attached to different countries’ citizenship. You can read Agnes and Nele's conversation around some of the issues involved.

Umut Erel worked with Behjat Omer Abdulla, whose hauntingly beautiful drawings engage with the tragedies families experience when they become refugees. The drawings were complemented by an interactive element that invited audiences to reflect on their own positioning, ethical responsibility towards refugees and how this affects their own identities. From a Distance, a conversation between Umut and Behjat, also took place on the ethics of representing the refugee crisis.

Finally, Lisa Pilgram collaborated with artist Laura Sorvala whose work Outside the Box used visual story-telling techniques to look at questions of belonging and community and challenge simple ideas of ‘us’ and ‘them'.

Read more about the OU's involvement.