Wednesday 27 June, 6-7:30pm
43-46 Gordon Square
FREE: first come, first seated
Internationally-recognised video artist Anna Konik is visiting Birkbeck from her bases in Berlin and Warsaw to speak to us about her work involving migrant and refugee stories and to develop a new project with students on Birkbeck's award-winning Compass Project. Konik has exhibited in numerous Polish and European galleries and museums over the past two decades. In the Winter Semester of 2017-18 she was Rudolf Arnheim Associate Professor at the Department of Art and Visual History, Humboldt University, Berlin; she is currently a fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center.
She will introduce and screen extracts from her project In the Same City, under the Same Sky..., which has been exhibited in Germany, Poland, Sweden and Romania.
In Anna's words: 'In the Same City, under the Same Sky... is a response to the reluctance shown towards immigrants and the tragedies that befall them on their way to Europe. These testimonies of immigrant women from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Burma, Palestine, Turkey, Kurdistan, Congo, Romania, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Somalia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ecuador, and Roma communities, form an authentic record of their plight. The first part was recorded in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, in 2011; the second in Białystok, near the eastern border of Poland in 2012; the third in Romania, mainly Bucharest, in 2013; the fourth part, recorded in Istanbul, started in parallel with part three and was completed in 2014, and the most recent one was created in Nantes in 2015. In each city where a new episode was filmed, I engage native local residents (Swedish, Polish, Romanian, Turkish and French women, respectively) as mediums. Sitting comfortably in their homes, they retell the immigrant women’s stories, always in the first person, as if they were recounting their own experiences. This important gesture sheds a new light on a seemingly distant problem. Women from ‘here’ identify themselves with the burden of memory and painful experiences of the Others. What is more, they not only lent them their faces and voices, but above all set in motion a mechanism of empathy that suggests a path towards understanding. Perhaps it leads through the crack that appears in the viewer’s perception when the contents of the stories are combined with the images shown on screen.'
Anna Konik's visit has been made possible by support from the Polish Cultural Institute in London.