Sea-Crossing: The Mediterranean and its ‘Others’.
The workshop, Sea-crossing: the Mediterranean and its “others”, was purposefully held in Naples in order to analyse the Mediterranean as both a visible site of the current neoliberal ethical-human failure(s), and a crucial space for opportunity, social and political change, cultural challenges. The latter takes often the form of artistic and curatorial practices that articulate critically the experiences of transit, displacement, border-crossings, as well as the sense of belonging, cultural memory and identity.
The event took place outside University setting, at a non-institutional, independent space called “L’Asilo”, i.e. “asylum”(http://www.exasilofilangieri.it), an inspiring venue for our event. The Theatre hosted the workshop, while the Armoury was the set for Kate Stanworth’s photo exhibition, Where We Are Now, based on her work with migrants around Europe.
Mediterranean migrations were analysed through different theoretical perspectives. Iain Chambers, referring to artistic and music languages as a critical epistemological method, highlighted how maritime crossings invite us to rethink the interleaved histories and cultures of the Mediterranean outside and beyond the existing frames of citizenship and the nation state. Martin Lemberg-Pedersen analysed the evolution of the Mediterranean borderscapes during the 2000s, focusing on how border systems also function as transnational networks of control nodes. Drawing on research carried out as part of the ESRC-funded MEDMIG project, Nando Sigona shows how assumptions concerning ‘illegal’ and ‘genuine’ migrants (mis)inform policy responses both on arrival, en route and post-arrival. The first session was brought to a close by Karolina Follis’ reflections on international humanitarianism, and its critiques; her research assesses the responses to the European refugee crisis in the UK and in Eastern Europe.
The second session was dedicated to creative practices of archiving and re-elaborating the experience of migration by some curatorial initiatives such as Porto M (https://portommaremediterraneomigrazionimilitarizzazione.wordpress.com) in Lampedusa, presented by one of its founder, artist Giacomo Sferlazzo, animated by a strong independent approach; cultural collective Archive of Migrant Memories (www.archiviomemoriemigranti.net) was presented by one of its members Livia Apa; the migrant-led organisation Migrant Voice (www.migrantvoice.org), based in UK, was introduced by Jason Bergen; activist Tommaso Gandini talked about #Overthefortress (link), a collective action of monitoring and enquiring in and beyond fortress Europe.
Artist Zineb Sedira focused on her works concerning transit, migration, maritime memories, and her postcolonial Euro-African autobiography; and poet Raphael d’Abdon, offered a reading of his poetry Mediterranean Blues. The workshop concluded with the screening of documentary Echoes by Gabriele Cipolla, about refugees’ experiences at the in Idomeni camp and Radio No Border; and with Giacomo Sferlazzo’s concert, Lampemusa, based on the migrant stories that have crossed Lampedusa’s history.
Like in Keele, this event was also characterised by a creative engagement with pebbles; this time through Neapolitan artist Ulderico’s installation Border-crossings – a work-in-progress and collective action around an installation set on the Theatre’s stage. It was a circle, made with the remains left by the sea, evoking the Mediterranean. A heap of pebbles placed inside the circle; participants inscribed words on the pebbles and then placed them out of the circle. The installation prompted to rethink about naming, border crossing.