Art as a Space for Action is the first project executed within the program New Patrons in Gothenburg supported by Kulturbryggan.
The commissioner is Samira Motazedi who at the beginning of the project was an asylum seeker formulated her need in the following commission brief:
”Refugees, asylum seekers and paperless is not an homogeneous group. They all have different backgrounds and knowledge. But when arriving in Sweden they share a common experience of living in an in-between space. While waiting for their future to be decided the only thing that exists is time. According to the Swedish regulations they do not have the right to be involved in courses, having an income or in other ways creating such connections with the Swedish society. Time spent waiting for an unknown future decided by a faceless institution creates an almost unbearable situation. When being reduced to this in limbo existence you get stripped from qualities such as dignity and confidence. Both the past and the future are dramatic and dark as an asylum seeker or paperless.
When time is all you have its essential to use it in a meaningful way. Both on an individual level, but also as a way of connecting to society at large. Even though the situation as an asylum seeker or paperless is tainted by insecurities, this is what life for these people look like and everyday that pass by in passivity make up a life together. Therefore it is of utmost importance to make the time matter. By creating a space of opportunities it will provide a groundwork of connecting to society at large once the asylum seekers status is changed into refugee status and they are welcomed into the structures of the Swedish society.
Everybody who come to Sweden have a history and experiences that are dark and difficult. They do not come from a void but had an everyday life in their old context. This everyday life, with all that it entails, gives a person meaning, identity and purpose. In the process of coming to Sweden this context is lost along the way. And the new situation only give you the right to be defined by your status of citizenship. The isolation from society at large, where you either live in refugee camps or small apartments, confine both mental and physical space.
The aim for this project is to open up that confined space by creating a physical space where time spent matters. A physical space filled with opportunities for action is not only an act of inclusivity but also an act of defiance against an immigration system that is crippling and repressive. The space we aim to create is a place for art as a space for action. Both where artistic practice is used in order to create meaning but also where art as a concept can be used in order to expand the limits of action that are provided for people in this in limbo existence.
In order for the space not to become an echo chamber or just another confined space, but to truly be a space of integration with society at large, it is important to also include Swedish residents. By using artistic practice, artistic expression and art as a space for action communication and collaboration will be encouraged.
This is a space for gathering and creation. Where no one feels like a stranger or that they do not belong. The esthetics should not be either according to ”Swedish taste” or any other particular generic style. It should be visually welcoming no matter what previous preference you come with. This is a place to be close friends. This is a place for making new close friends and break up the cliques you ordinarily associate with. The space invites them to be there and work. It is a space that you cannot find anywhere else because you do not belong anywhere.
This is not another refugee camp, not another day center, not another church and not another help organisation. This is a space where focus is on action not on passive help. Action is required from all attendees, regardless of their momentary residential status. You will not be passively entertained but are required to be an active participant, not because you will not be eligible for grants otherwise, but because art as a space for action is a place that we create together.”
ICIA’s mediator since presented suggestions of different artists, designers and architects, Samira Motazedi chose to work with Chris Porcarelli. Chris has interpreted the commissioning brief and made a suggestion that Samira has consequently accepted. Art as a Space for Action is now being realized at ICIA, Järnmalmsgatan 5 on Ringön in Gothenburg.