images (top to bottom): The Sweetest Dream, Nemanja Cvijanovic, flag (2005); ‘Advanced Science of Morphology, Nada Prlja, installation in Marble Arch (2006), allsopp&weir ‘Call to Prayer’, film (2006) and Loránt Anikó and Kaszás Tamás, Shelter of Hope installation (2006).
In all this depressing Brexit mess I’ve been thinking a lot about the ‘reunion’ projects I did back in 2006-7 with Nemanja Cvijanovic, Raffaella Crispino, Škart, Nada Prlja, Tamás Kaszás, Anikó Lorant, Andy Weir, (allsopp&weir) Lucy Catherine Parker and many more amazing artists. We did The Sweetest Dream exhibition at SPACE in London about ‘unity and dissonance’ in Europe. I re-found this old website I did with my sister Fran Hope which is quite strange to read back 12 years later! https://www.reunionprojects.org.uk/blog/2006/04/
The formatting has gone strange with time but the blog content is there.
Back in 2004, Sarah Carrington and I did a project at the Pump House Gallery called Trading Places about migration in Europe with over 20 artists (blurb below): https://welcomebb.sophiehope.org.uk/projects/tradingplaces2.html
There’s also this text Sarah Carrington and I did for Variant in 2005: http://www.variant.org.uk/23texts/b+b.html
These curatorial investigations and meeting points came out of concerns over increasing xenophobia around the widening of the European Union and the anti-migration feelings that were around. They were about bringing together different artists and activists with different experiences of living and working in Europe. These sorts of meeting points seem so crucial to continue given the UK’s determination to drift off from Europe in an act of tortuous self-righteousness. What I liked about these discussions we were having back then was that they incorporated healthy critiques of the EU and the power of borders and rising nationalism. I’m revisiting this work because I want to find ways to continue these conversations with comrades across Europe, somehow, somewhere!
Nemanja describes The Sweetest Dream:
‘The european ‘second empire’ or ‘sub empire’ is united by dreams and symbols. Its boundaries are open to the circulation of goods but waterproof to the circulation of people. Near custom houses there are CPT (temporary permanence centres, along all the mediterranean coast: from Gorizia to Italian coast, to French coast, to Spanish coast. They look like concentration camps, from an age not so far, where people have no freedom, no justice and no culture). CTP are managed by a shameful society, that lives of wars, exploited countries’ misery (they are its new ‘colonies’). My point of view is from outside the EU, as Croatian citizen. EU approves without any problems the co-existence of ‘first and second degree (level/class)’ citizens within the community, and if we wanted to we could name even a group of ‘third’ degree invisible citizens. I hope that everyone who sees The Sweetest Dream, when observing the EU flag next time, would reflect on what is become of this EU ‘anti-fascist’ dream of equality and economic sharing.’
Here’s the blurb from The Sweetest Dream exhibition (the title of which is from this work pictured by Nemanja Cvijanovic, which we weren’t allowed to show in the exhibition at the request of the funders, the Austrian Cultural Forum – a whole interesting story in itself):
Attempts to create kinship across Europe take diverse forms, from transnational cultural projects to efforts to control populations by redrawing borders. Nada Prlja’s project ‘Advanced Science of Morphology’ (2006) which presents 26 combinations of the five national flags of the states that once made up Yugoslavia. Prlja’s flags create distorted national identities, reflecting the impossibility of drawing clear distinctions in such contested territory.
Singing together, be it national anthems or union songs, connects people while spreading political ideals. A series of video works in The Sweetest Dream capture the desire to sing from the same song sheet across national and cultural boundaries. In ‘Learning Freedom’ (2005) we watch Dragan Djordjevic attempt to teach Raffaella Crispino how to play ‘Think’ by Aretha Franklin with no common language between them. The painful process of learning an unknown piece of music is echoed in allsopp&weir’s video ‘Call to Prayer’ (2005) in which a classically trained female singer learns to sing the Islamic call to prayer from a record.
The invention of Esperanto hoped to overcome our communication barriers and to create understanding across borders. Tamás Kaszás and Anikó Lóránt will install an Esperanto classroom constructed from locally found materials. During the exhibition, the public can access information and resources gathered by the artists as well as take part in a free Esperanto class.
The Sweetest Dream brings together artworks that criticise and celebrate attempts at unity and invite us to reflect on the roles we play in making and breaking dreams of European togetherness.
Here’s the info about Trading Places at the Pumphouse in 2004:
Zeigam Azizov, Big Hope, Ursula Biemann, Phil Collins, Petja Demitrova, Esra Ersen, Grass Roots Collective, Edina Husanovic, Adla Isanovic, Sejla Kameric, Klub Zwei, Martin Krenn, Kristina Leko, MAIZ, P.A.R.A.S.I.T.E. Museum, Photoinsight, Lisl Ponger, Marko Raat, Isa Rosenberger, Social Impact, Szuper Gallery, Wochenklausur, Moira Zoitl
Trading Places is an exhibition developed by curatorial team B+B on art and migration. With the expansion of the European Union in May, issues of asylum and immigration are gaining widespread media attention. Trading Places will offer a critical platform to discuss Britain’s relationship to Europe and its borders by presenting sensitive and provocative projects that investigate and map experiences of migration. A programme of free screenings, artists’ talks and discussions will provide a space for constructive dialogue on issues of prejudice and representation.
Trading Places brings together works in video, photography, public interventions and collaborative projects. Contributors include internationally renowned artists such as Ursula Biemann (Switzerland), Phil Collins (UK) and Lisl Ponger (Austria) and emerging artists such as Esra Ersen (Turkey) and Sejla Kameric (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Many of the works in Trading Places are being presented in London and the UK for the first time with a particular focus on issues and practices emerging from Central and South East Europe. At the heart of Trading Places is a lively orientation area containing a video library, an archive of project documentation and reference texts.
A series of new commissions will be realised especially for Trading Places. Phil Collins will realise Delivery 2, the second part of a three-phase project that was first commissioned in 2003 by Photoworks and the Brighton Photo Biennial. Collins hand-delivers portraits of asylum-seekers in the UK back to relatives in their country of origin, returning with a newly taken picture of each, examining the importance of photography in specific situations, and the common misconceptions surrounding refugees and asylum-seekers. Martin Krenn has been commissioned to develop his ongoing photographic project City Views for the first time in London, working in cooperation with migrants who show him sites, buildings and areas in urban settings that hold a particular personal significance. In Cartographies, the artist-activist group MAIZ will generate an alternative map of London in collaboration with women migrants living in the city.
image: Signage to the Trading Places exhibition, Battersea Park (2004)