Who are Eastern Europeans? In the media, they are a perpetual danger to the economy and cultural cohesion. In certain public spaces they are invisible. Classified as ‘other’ on equal opportunity forms in the UK, they do not fit within the traditional segmentation of diversity and sit uncomfortably in other tick boxes.
The Invisible Other will present the practice of There There, who deconstruct Eastern European identity as a form of activism and self-care: a strategy for taking ownership of Eastern Europeanness in the public sphere. An informal presentation will introduce their participation model, built on sharing agency and cultural space with other members of their immigrant community.
The evening will place identity-driven practices alongside the realities of working with art institutions. A discussion with curator and academic Lina Džuverović will investigate if the self-care of such practices is annulled by institutional frameworks. Do ‘diversity’ classifications create competition between ‘minority’ artists and establish hierarchies of marginalisation?
There There is a 50% Romanian 50% Serbian performance company, founded in London by Dana Olărescu and Bojana Janković. Their work grows out of intimate political and social frustrations and explores how social changes and paradigms influence everyday lives and identities. The company’s practice revolves around topics that emerge at the intersection of personal experiences and big-picture policy and politics, including immigration, immigrants’ public identity, exclusion, national identities, institutionalism and heritage. They create pieces that find their form in response to content, resulting in a diverse practice that includes performances for studios, galleries and the outdoors, one-on-ones and sound installations. Audience development, focused on engagement with immigrant communities, is an essential part of our creative practice. The company has created pieces for the Museum of London, Rowan Arts and Giving in to Gift, received funding from Arts Council England, and performed around the UK, including at SPILL National Platform, Experimentica, and Tate Modern.
Dr Lina Džuverović is an independent curator and Lecturer in Arts Policy and Management at Birkbeck’s Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies. Previously Lina was Lecturer in Fine Art at the Reading School of Art, University of Reading. Between 2011 and 2013 Lina was Artistic Director at Calvert 22 Foundation. Prior to this she spent seven years as Director of Electra, a London-based contemporary art organisation which she co-founded in 2003. In 2016 she curated ‘Monuments Should Not Be Trusted’ for Nottingham Contemporary. The exhibition and associated events brought together varied artistic practices and material culture from the former Yugoslavia, from the 1960s and1970s. Džuverović’s PhD (Pop Art Tendencies in Self-managed Socialism: Pop Reactions and Countercultural Pop in Yugoslavia in 1960s and 1970s), which was funded by a collaborative award (AHRC) between Tate and the Royal College of Art, contributed towards Tate Modern’s exhibition The World Goes Pop (2015).
Image credit: Maria Tanjala.