Local textile / ceramic artist Nicki Jarvis will be spending a week at the North Sea Observatory, between Monday 22 - Sunday 28 October (school half term). Using the new art space adjacent to Seascape Cafe, she will be creating a new artwork using screen-prints, hand and machine stitching and ceramics.
Ideas for the piece, Birds Without Sky, have developed through conversation with Malka al-Haddad, an asylum seeker who is based in Leicester but who spends time in Louth through the Greater Lincolnshire Area of Sanctuary (GLAoS) project.
Nicki explains: "The North Sea Observatory is a really interesting contemporary building, perched on the dunes like a great big bird hide, enabling visitors to scan the horizon from the comfort of Seascape Café, whilst enjoying the natural landscape. The Observatory website describes 'the passage of the thousands of birds from all around the world (Greenland, Iceland, Arctic, Siberia, North and South America etc) that migrate along the Lincolnshire coastline in spring, autumn and early winter.' The migration of people is one of the biggest issues that all countries are grappling with and I thought it would be interesting to introduce Malka to people who don't know her and her story."
An Iraqi academic, human rights activist and feminist, Malka left her home and a good job in Iraq as a result of the threats that she and her family received through her work. She is currently seeking leave to remain in the UK and, unable to work whilst seeking asylum, Malka seeks to add value by volunteering and creative engagement. As a result she has produced a body of poetry 'Birds Without Sky' which presents the refugee experience from the inside. Nicki has used Malka's poem 'Homeland,' which contains the title reference, as inspiration for the work which will be literally pieced together during her residency.
The book, Birds Without Sky, published by Harriman House will be available to purchase from the Observatory, price £10. All proceeds go to GLAoS.
For more information contact email@example.com or go to nickijarvis.wordpress.com
A red sun is seen over a dinghy overcrowded with Syrian refugees drifting in the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece after its motor broke down off the Greek island of Kos, August 11, 2015. Yannis Behrakis / Reuters
A selection of the art works, including some by Malka, previously exhibited in the Across the Seas exhibition at the Sam Scorer Gallery, Lincoln, last May will be displayed.
I'm from a country at war
I'm from a country that's bleeding
A country of anger
A country of martyrs,
I'm from a country once called Mesopotamia
I'm from the land of black gold
I'm from the richest land on the earth
I'm from the land of sunshine on a golden desert
I'm from there
But I'm not there
I had beautiful dreams
I had friends, brothers, sisters, sweet parents and pink hopes.
I had green gardens, tall palms and olive trees
I had a warm winter
I was born on land before the crossing of swords on the body
Turned into a banquet table
Before Bush and Blair turned our rivers to blood
Then they donated millions of tents instead of roofs for our houses
The rain has died in my homeland
They left graves in the green grass in our fields.
Only cacti remain laughing in the barren desert
The sun has become ashamed behind the clouds
Where is God?
Has even God become a refugee in His land?
Where is our ancient law?
Has even this been stolen?
I crossed the seas of death
Waves of grief have led me here
To the land of my usurpers in an old and narrow shelter
The victim cannot judge her executioner
I now speak in two languages, but I have forgotten in which one I used to dream
I have learned all the words to take
The lexicon apart for one noun's sake
The compound I must make:
No choice I came here
But I'm not here
You are a refugee and
Your choice is not your choice
More about Malka al-Haddad
And some more of her poems Santa in Iraq
and Children of War
BIRDS WITHOUT SKY is a collection of poetry inspired by a journey into exile. This is the work of Malka, one of the friends of Greater Lincolnshire Area of Sanctuary (GLAoS), published by Ludensian Books (another of our friends!) and produced entirely through the voluntary effort of many people. ALL proceeds from the sale of the book will be shared between GLAoS, Leicester City of Sanctuary, and Baobab Women's Project. The poetry is beautiful; the illustrations stunning.
Andrea Büttner included this quotation from Simone Weil in her works exhibited for the Turner Prize at the Ferens Gallery, Hull, in 2017. Most people, given a free choice, prefer to remain rooted and to be buried with their ancestors. The great flows of migration are invariably made under duress.
Arrival and "Wir sind..." ~ Biff Vernon
'Arrival' was based on a photo by Achilleas Zavallis published by UNHCR. Fearful children are carried to safety by rescuers in control of the immediate situation. Their longer term future is unknown. "Wir sind..." - "We have not come for your money. We are fleeing from your bombs", after an internet meme circulating in 2016, author unknown.
The List, all 33,293 entries, on a 48-page pdf file is available to download here.
When Life is Left with Only One Pressure Mark
Dead people need names, like new-borns. Dead people need a name and a space, just as mourners need a place to grieve. The effort to create such spaces is at the beginning of civilization and culture. As part of this task, Banu Cennetoǧlu has created "The List". "The List" was published in Der Tagesspiegel, as 48 pages, unadorned, without comment, in print and online. It documents the names of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants who have died within or at the borders of Europe since 1993. Every person on this list, every dead person has a line giving their name, place of origin and date of death. The data is compiled and updated by United for Intercultural Action, the European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants, refugees and minorities.
Each entry a destiny, a lost life
The Greek newspaper "Ta Nea" published in 2007 in collaboration with Banu Cennetoǧlu a list with the names of 8855 dead. In 2010, at a poster campaign organized by the Kunsthalle Basel, "The List" covered 13,284 deaths. The list that Banu Cennetoǧlu presented on 9th Npvember 2017 has 33,293 positions. Each entry a destiny, a lost life. Banu Cennetoǧlu says it is only the "tip of the iceberg". In fact, many more people have died on the run, drowned in the Mediterranean. Nobody knows their number. Banu Cennetoǧlu wants people to read what's in the paper like a strange, disturbing find. “The List" is not an art event. She wants to protect the list from misunderstandings. The name of the artist is hidden somewhere in the smallest print. It should not be for her. It is not, as she has sometimes heard, not "Banu's list". Rituals are no less important than breathing air. People preserve the memory of the lost, fallen in the war, as the ancient playwright Aeschylus in the oldest surviving text in the history of theatre, the "Persians" from 472 BC shows. At Ground Zero in New York are the names of the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on bronze plates. The portrayal of the victims, the organization of the collective memory often leads to a bitter dispute, because it is an eminently political act. When the artist Ai Weiwei published lists with the names of the children who were killed in the great earthquake in Sichuan province In May 2008, this was a protest against the information blockade of the Chinese government. Anonymity kills a second time. And just as the intolerable seeks linguistic or artistic expression, the question arises as to what "The List" is. A monument? A memorial? But there is nothing fixed, it is just for the moment. What is written will tomorrow seem outdated as the numbers rise. It is possible, if you hold them in your hand, that you cannot get rid of the names, the places, the details of the cause of death. The list lives in a terrible way, not just because it's a mere statistic. As things stand around the Mediterranean, new tragedies are developing; hopelessly overcrowded dinghies capsize, the rescuers are overwhelmed, another group of mostly young people marching into their lives, misinformed and betrayed, are not back to. Those who are closest to the list.
Such a work can never be free from mistakes and mistakes.
"You have these printed pages in your hand, you read, it has a beginning and an end, but that is a deception. You are in the middle of the story" says Banu Cennetoǧlu. "It is frightening how the refugee catastrophe is finding general acceptance. It has a low priority in the political agenda. If it were a natural disaster, it would look different. In refugee camps, people kill themselves with a pair of shoelaces for fear of being rejected and sent back. This level of hopelessness is beyond imagination." She says that calmly, does not complain. What she collects, what she conveys, in this calm, matter-of-fact, and hence provocative form, speaks for itself. She asks, "Who has the right to speak for people who have no voice? Who decides that? " The list is also an attempt to avoid an inappropriate appropriation of human suffering. It is clear that such a work, such an incredible and hard-to-shoulder diligence, can never be free from mistakes. The objective difficulties in creating and researching again emphasize their urgency. If there were to be sufficiently reliable information that would be extensive enough to trace the path of a person from Africa or Central Asia to death in the Mediterranean, then the situation there would probably be completely different. Then there would not be many of those dead. Lists have something practical as well as philosophical. Sometimes they express a certain luxury. They shape everyday life, a useful tool: shopping list, price list, address list. Umberto Eco sees this as a human need. Banu Cennetoǧlu makes clear that talking about lists cannot have an end. Borders are always arbitrary. There is no reason to be proud of or to be attached to this work. It forbids itself. "Numbers are important, as important as names," she says. In 2006 in Amsterdam, she posted the first lists in public, in the city space; and then they disappeared the next day. She therefore sought other ways and forms through institutions. That's why working with a state theatre and a newspaper in Berlin meant so much to her. This would create readership and distribution. She has lived in New York, in Paris, and now lives in Istanbul today. "The List" accompanies her everywhere. She remembers coming in contact with the list for the first time: "I read and read and could not stop reading," in the hard, dry format. In the document every human being becomes a number and at the same time and finds a mention that was not given to elsewhere. For the artist, "The List" is a map of the wars, the conflicts, the political tensions of our time. It is a contemporary Sisyphean task. Banu Cennetoǧlu protects The List like something very precious. And that is when nothing of a human life remains but a tiny print trail in a pile of newspaper.
The text above is based on an article by Rüdiger Schaper, published in Der Tagesspiegel on the 7th of November 2017. It has been translated from the original German and slightly abridged by Biff Vernon. The original is available here.
The List (2017) created by artists Banu Cennetoǧlu & Nihan Somay in collaboration with UNITED
Temporary public installation by REDCAT and the City of West Hollywood through WeHo Arts
This iteration of The List was commissioned by Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), on view March 25 to June 4, 2017 and installed with the support of the City of West Hollywood through WeHo Arts. More photos of the installation are available here.
The List was featured in the Liverpool Biennial, distributed across public sites in Liverpool and London during summer 2018. On two occassions The List was vandalised.
In support of Nicki Jarvi's residency, we present a print-out of a few of the 48 page document. Let us question how we may stop the list from growing, how we may become part of the solution.
Outmarsh ~ Maxim Griffin
More information about By the Sea
Lincolnshire County Council's webpage about the North Sea Observatory
Lincolnshire Time and Tide Bell Community Interest Company is a not-for profit organisation, registered at Companies House. Company Number 10934941