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The Unwanted Land is an interdisciplinary artistic and research project reflecting upon the issue of migration, and national and international identities. It will involve artists and researchers who all have first hand experience of migration.

This exhibition as I see it can be set up as an international workshop. The main objective is to take a small segment of this complex global identity and focus on those who have experienced it. The exhibition/art project will consist of work by artists who have been through migration and who, in their work, reflect upon issues of relocation/resettlement. The artworks will be in the form of spatial (multi/mixed media) installations (and performances) aiming at visualizing migration experience and identification to achieve (new) contexts (and perspectives).

Another important aspect will be the role of participation as artistic research. The audience/the local communities are invited to participate in the project, for example by handing in a valued object of their home country (in case of immigrants) or something they relate to strongly because they identify the object with their identity or sense of belonging. In addition, people can be invited (via adds in the newspaper) to write down their experience of migration on one page.

Within the context of the installation, these texts will enable the gallery visitor to travel through a multitude of experiences of relocation.

The exhibition is in fact in itself an unknown place to explore. Once you have overcome the fear of the unknown, curiosity steps in, and the question arises what you will see there. Through the artworks some visitors will meet what at first glance feels familiar, others who have not gone through the experience of migration, will get an inside awareness of how it is to live in another country, and to be confronted with the unknown. An immigrant’s remark: ‘It was like I was 13 years old again and had to learn how to behave properly all over again’.

The project aims at gaining a deeper understanding of migration and to enable the visitors to experience the responses and artistic practices of those who have gone through it. It is challenging to examine whether this concept could contribute to a better understanding of the fundamental issues of relocation/resettlement, by stimulating an awareness of this condition.

Rudi Struik