Joined the Sikh on their annual procession to celebrate the ‘birthday’ of their religion. this is the beginning of the walk, we walked from Sloterdijk to the Dam and back. With a lunch in between. Everywhere we went they gave out food and drinks to the people on the streets. Everybody is the same. Everybody should be respected.
Converstations About Home (At The Deporation Centre)
by Warsan Shire
Well, I think home spat me out, the blackouts and curfews like tongue against loose tooth. God, do you know how difficult it is, to talk about the day your own city dragged you by the hair, past the old prison, past the school gates, past the burning torsos erected on poles like flags? When I meet others like me I recognise the longing, the missing, the memory of ash on their faces. No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark. I’ve been carrying the old anthem in my mouth for so long that there’s no space for another song, another tongue or another language. I know a shame that shrouds, totally engulfs. I tore up and ate my own passport in an airport hotel. I’m bloated with language I can’t afford to forget.
They ask me how did you get here? Can’t you see it on my body? The Libyan desert red with immigrant bodies, the Gulf of Aden bloated, the city of Rome with no jacket. I hope the journey meant more than miles because all of my children are in the water. I thought the sea was safer than the land. I want to make love but my hair smells of war and running and running. I want to lay down, but these countries are like uncles who touch you when you’re young and asleep. Look at all these borders, foaming at the mouth with bodies broken and desperate. I’m the colour of hot sun on my face, my mother’s remains were never buried. I spent days and nights in the stomach of the truck, I did not come out the same. Sometimes it feels like someone else is wearing my body.
I know a few things to be true. I do not know where I am going, where I have come from is disappearing, I am unwelcome and my beauty is not beauty here. My body is burning with the shame of not belonging, my body is longing. I am the sin of memory and the absence of memory. I watch the news and my mouth becomes a sink full of blood. The lines, the forms, the people at the desks, the calling cards, the immigration officer, the looks on the street, the cold settling deep into my bones, the English classes at night, the distance I am from home. But Alhamdulilah all of this is better than the scent of a woman completely on fire, or a truckload of men who look like my father, pulling out my teeth and nails, or fourteen men between my legs, or a gun, or a promise, or a lie, or his name, or his manhood in my mouth.
I hear them say, go home, I hear them say, fucking immigrants, fucking refugees. Are they really this arrogant? Do they not know that stability is like a lover with a sweet mouth upon your body one second and the next you are a tremor lying on the floor covered in rubble and old currency waiting for its return. All I can say is, I was once like you, the apathy, the pity, the ungrateful placement and now my home is the mouth of a shark, now my home is the barrel of a gun. I’ll see you on the other side.
With the big stream of migrants coming towards Europe there are two clear types; the economical and the political refugee. An economical refugee is overall less accepted than the political refugee, and have a more difficult time gaining asylum in Europe. It is considered that their need for asylum is less urgent than that of the political refugees.
In my stay in Calais I went to the Secours Catholique a day center for the migrants staying in Calais. This centre mainly had young boys seemingly all coming from Eritrea. In Eritrea there is a significant amount of political unrest with its former partner Ethiopia. Ethiopians are considered more economical refugees than Eritreans. The next day I returned to the center and realised that a lot of the boys were lying about their nationality. An encyclopaedia was roaming around the space. With this they would have to memorise the country they were appropriating to be theirs.
One of the woman in the shelter told me about the significance on how much you memorise the place you wish to come from, the place that would benefit you from seeking asylum. You have to take on a new identity, one that is similar to yours so that it is believable. The conversation came up when a Palestinian boy said that he was in his last phase of seeking his asylum. She didn’t believe that he was Palestinian as his french was way to good for the short period he had been here. She warned him: “know all you football teams, all their colours know the streets in your city know what major there is now what president and those that have come before them, know ‘your’ country, and don’t make mistakes!” He was insulted by her demanding tone and tried to change the topic of the conversation. She continued saying that even if it was his country he she know it better than everybody else! And that he should not show them that he spoke french ...
I am interested in how you appropriate a new identity considering a necessity. Besides this extreme situation where it becomes a matter of expectancy within a new surrounding. Can you consider a perfect migrant. I what narrative they should construct to be become the ideal migrant. I would like to show the absurdities.
Besides this temporary identity that the migrant is forced to take on. With arrival to Europe they also enter a temporary community. The make shift camps that are set up contain a mixture of cultures and identities often clashing or containing groups of extreme ideas from which they fled in the first place. However instead of being opposing to each other they are now part of one communal space. And made to share what they have and communicate with each other. I noticed in the Secours Catholique that everybody had found a way to communicate with each other. A mixture of multiple european languages and a lot of arabic in many forms. Abbas an Iranian boy taught me how to write my name in arabic and showed me the difference between the different forms of arabic in writing. It often came down to mirroring certain letters.
A man that had stayed in the former Jungle told me that there were sort of neighbourhoods within the camp. Allowing for segregation between the areas that housed clashing cultures. It was often in the night time that conflict came. But throughout the day they had to deal with each other. Shave in the same place, go to the same temporary grocery store that was set up by one the citizens of the Jungle and visit the same temporary Mosk. I hope in the coming trips to find out more on how the architecture of the communities are set up.
Searching for the former ‘Jungle’ on google maps.
Communal shaving area at the former jungle. A razor graveyard.
Docking stations for mobile charging. The boys would call each other to warn for police. Lyca the mobile provider for those seeking asylum.
Building trucks at Secours Catholique.
The two topics or approaches I have been thinking about are the following:
First of all I am interested in different types of migrants groups. So any person that is migrating from one community to another (e.g immigrants, political refuges, expats, international students etc..) Looking to find parallels and the significant differences in their approach to migrating. What is their attitude to migrating. Have they considered how to approach the place and people they are migrating too. Have they found out what does and does not work.
I hope that I can get an idea on their approach to migrating by being there and talking to people I don’t want to be invasive so maybe it will only come through my own observation and storytelling.
Secondly I am interested in temporary communities, which maybe an effect of these migrating groups. For example the migrant camps where churches and small stores have been set up. Or a commune for the international community where you find stores that sell products from there home country. How are this temporary communities set up and what makes it become a commune standing apart from the rest. What gives them there temporary form and are there also parallels there?
An example is: when my mother moved around she would always make sure to bring all her furniture. And then she would furnish every house the same way. The same light would light up the same painting. She would cover the hole my dog made in the carpet with the same chair. My mom hated to move. So this comforted her.
For this I would to see what is on site, what make shift facilities are there if they brought something from home what is it? How is the community set up, what was the first thing that came the church or the store. How do these places start to exist how are they welcomed into the community. Have they copied things from the places they come from.
I have also seen the term fortification come by a lot. I would like to investigate this term in relation to these temporary communities. A fort is defensive structure, that means something is supposed to stay out.
The email directly went to my head. The whole week I was thinking about this mysterious post BA program that would start within the month. Who else was asked? what would they expect? should I continue the course I just started?
We will see what happens. I would have a introday the week following, I just needed to prospone making any official commitments to the very demanding java course.
The following Monday the introduction day came for the CPCP program a named that mystified it even more. They had organised a small symposium but we would meet beforehand to talk about the program and meet the other people that got invited. It ended up being a very small and intimate group. Vinca and Simone joked that the amount of people they would like to have join the program should be able to fit in the car. This would make us more flexible. They talked about how they were interested in creating a program that would allow the designer to step out of the studio. The idea would be that we would generate the program as we go, see what we would need and allow it to develop. Later we went to the symposium and I decided that I would try it out.
Three weeks later I got a reply to my application and I got in. With Isabelle, Tom and Hanna. We all fit in the car. We set up our CPCP head quarters got all the stuff we think we will need and started to dive in the topic of migration. A very loaded topic at the moment. Tomorrow will be our first trip, we are going to Calais. And the more I’m getting involved in the program the more that I believe ‘we will see’ seems to be the way to explain everything. How can we prepare ourselves before the trip is mainly by having good equipment and an interest. How will we position ourselves as a designer on site, we will see there. What do we hope to find out, we will see. What are we gonna do, we will see. We will see, we will see, we will see.
We joked about it a lot, but as our first post what we are about: I think it is important to say that ‘we will see’, and formulate it at a later point. Let us first get the time to find out.