Displaced, Mendelsohnhalle, Luckenwalde, Germany 12 June – 12 July 2015

Schlachten International Contemporary Arts Festival invited Difference Screen to curate films for Displaced, this year’s festival theme focusing on displacement, the zeitgeist of the moment. Issues concerning migration are huge, pressing, and remain unresolved within the European Union. http://schlachten.org/displaced-2015/

The invitation to take part in Displaced came from Dan Farberoff an organiser of the festival, who has also worked with Difference Screen since its inception. Dan made our website and continues to assist with technical issues behind the scenes.

Sourcing films about displacement was a challenge and we are grateful to Neville Gabie, Abrie Fourie and Marie-Hélène Gutberlet for their advice on films from Africa.

Fifteen new works were added to the Difference Screen portfolio. Many of these were shown over two weekends in a tent auditorium within the massive structure of the Mendelsohnhalle, a former hat factory built by Erich Mendelsohn in 1920 http://schlachten.org/2015/02/09/the-mendelsohn-hall-our-main-venue-for-displaced-2015/ http://schlachten.org/mendelsohn-hall-image-gallery/

Tent auditorium

Our first programme began with Migration Standards by Borjana Ventzislavova, a reflection on the situation faced by migrants from outside the EU vis a vis principles of peace, democracy, solidarity, justice, respect for human rights and freedom of movement that the EU invokes. The programme continued with Stand Here! Csaba Nemes’ powerful puppet film, concerning common prejudice faced by the Roma community. In Speechless Salomé Jashi records the silent expressions of Georgians after the 2008 war with Russia. This proved so disturbing that a couple in the audience who have been refugees themselves left the screening.

For further programmes Difference Screen invited guest artist speakers Verena Kyselka, Andrew Darke, Sophia Tabatadze, Guy Wouete and Teboho Edkins.

Verena’s experimental documentary The Formosa Experiment, part animation, part enactment, weaves many threads touching on global political and economic conflicts, environmental issues and contemporary history. What would happen if an island completely disappeared and its people reemerged elsewhere in the world?

In the same programme in Laura Mulvey’s 23rd August 2008 Faysal Abudullah speaks of his relationship with his younger brother, Kamel, and in the process evokes the lives of Iraqi intellectuals of the left, driven into exile in the early 1980s by Saddam Hussein’s regime. The evening concluded with Neville Gabie’s Collective Breath its emission a signal of our common entity.

Displacement informed by issues of ownership was highlighted on the 27th in two films, Sophia Tabatadze’s Pirimze, and Ownership by Andrew Darke a work in progress with the Yorkley Court Community Farm. Both are current works reflecting shared concerns through different histories. Pirimze set in Tbilisi, Georgia considers a building and its workers through the transformation of late soviet society of the 1970’s to the contemporary marketplace economy. Ownership gives a sense of the three-year struggle by a community group who occupied a farm caught in a 40 year legal bind over ownership in Gloucestershire in the UK.


Teboho Edkins and Guy Wouete joined us on the 28th. In Teboho’s film Kinshasa 2.0 an internet campaign helps in the release of a presidential candidate jailed for talking openly about the lack of democracy.

Guy Wouete’s two films Corridor and Next Week address issues of migration. Both are part of a multimedia installation Next Week. Guy writes “These works are a result of a journey to Malta in May 2010 where I did research in three migrants camps, Balzan Open Refugee Camp, Marsa Camp, the Hal-Far Tent Village Open Centre for Refugees. The idea was to observe the immigration/ immigrant’s reality beyond the conceptual and the political mind but also to reconsider Darwin’s term of evolution of the species and the natural selection.

“Coming from Cameroon in Central Africa, I know the immigrants’ stories from inside, I saw that reality, I live in it and I experienced it somehow.” Being in Europe, I decided to look at this question of migration from another perspective, from within the so-called paradise, with the eyes of those who had enough of their sufferings and their problems. Who wanted to make it somewhere else.

Teboho Edkins and Guy Wouete 28.6.2015

The programme concluded with Capsular by Herman Asselberghs. “Ceuta, situated along the coast of Morocco, is now fully part of the European Union. This vanguard of European neoliberal and xenophobic refugee policy acts as a contemporary version of the ‘Iron Curtain’. As a tangible construction this ‘Wall’ between Europe and Africa is a precarious example of an extensive deportation annex security industry. As a symbolical line of fracture between North and South, between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, this enclave represents both the harsh reality of Africans looking for a brighter existence and the fantasy of Europeans beset and menaced by barbarism.”

Further information on these films and Difference Screen programmes shown at Displaced can be found at http://schlachten.org/displaced-2015-video-tent programme/#displacedfilm1

Bruce Allan

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