The European summer of 2017 will see swarms of art tourists make their way between the documenta platforms in Athens and Kassel, to Münster, and to the Venice Biennale. While this freedom of movement for some, influences the production and reception of art, artists at the Jan van Eyck residency in Maastricht, Netherlands, have been discussing the current far-right immigration policies and notions of cultural identity, nationalism and political borders limiting movement for others.
Aotearoa New Zealand artist Raewyn Martyn met Dutch artist Paoletta Holst at the Jan van Eyck Academy, where creative researchers gather from many different nations each year. Holst’s current project, Grand Tour Europa (2017) reflects on how European cultural identity and tourism compares to the experiences of refugees, whose migration routes roughly follows in reverse the ‘Grand Tour’ favoured by 19th century cultural elite. Martyn introduced Holst to writer and publisher Murdoch Stephens from the Doing Our Bit campaign in Aotearoa New Zealand, which aims to increase New Zealand’s refugee quota (750 per year in 2017, unchanged since 1987). Both Holst and Stephens use writing as a process to think through the ways in which cultural identities and borders are formed and assigned, and how these processes influence very real, life-and-death, refugee and immigration policies.
Contemporary HUM’s new platform for writing about New Zealand artists interacting within the global context sparked an opportunity to explore those parallels through conversation. What follows is a discussion about integrating social topics: refugee quotas, resettlement systems, and media-produced myths, within creative practices that generate public discourse, makes stories visible, and can shape new perceptions on notions of national borders and identity.
Read the full conversation here!