Art Asylum and Islam: Absences, Presences, Movements
(Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Paper short abstract:
This paper addresses the dynamics of absence and presence and examines the ways in which a collaboration between a local art initiative and a Berlin-based museum offers space for a critical investigation of the representation and recognition of Islam.
Paper long abstract:
The so-called "refugee crisis" - or the "long summer of migration" - stirred a heated debate about mobility, diversity and difference across the European continent, frequently accompanied by simplified representations of Islam that have been part of this discussion. By addressing the dynamics of absence and presence, I examine the ways in which a collaboration between a local art initiative and a Berlin-based museum holds the potential to offer space for a critical investigation of the representation and recognition of Islam. Based on long-term ethnographic research, this paper focuses on the practices of the art collective KUNSTASYL ("Art Shelter"), which includes asylum seekers and others, and their collaboration with the Museum of European Cultures (MEK) in the Dahlem neighbourhood of Berlin. The outcome of this cooperation was, among other projects, the exhibition entitled "daHEIM: Einsichten in flüchtige Leben" ("daHEIM: Glances into fugitive lives") and a series of performances. This paper explores those practices and is concerned with presences/absences and silences, and when, where and how they happen. I discuss the contexts and motivations behind them, as well as how silences might "speak for themselves" (Trouillot 1995).
Silences of/and mobility: towards an anthropology of the unspoken and unspeakable