‘Migrating dialogues’ is a transit zone. Between here and there. Between the past and the present. Between the personal and the geopolitical. Between ourselves and others. It is a collection of stories on migration. How does a transplantation process effect your own life and the lives of those close to you? Which choices did you make yourself and which were made for you? What are HERE and THERE in the first place? Where do the self-justifications and blind spots reside? What is left unsaid?
We are mapping our own migration routes by interviewing family and friends. Looking into our own migration histories, facing our own doubts, failures and vulnerabilities, opens up the possibility of a dialogue with others about their experiences. Confronting our own stories we invite others to share theirs. This ongoing investigation and (re-) collection is developed and documented in performances, audiovisual installations and podcasts. It is an attempt to engage with different perspectives on migration. Migration is a complex story of all times, of all places, that connects all of us.
Migrating Dialogues #4 Bamama
Bamama. Mother in plural. As a mother what do you pass on to your child – and how much choice do you have in this? Motherhood as heritage. Of land and goods. Of movable and immovable. Of pain. Privileges. Scars. Long legs. Big feet. Sand between toes and teeth. A white skin. Blind spots. Vertigo. Genes. With money, freezers and white coats mutations are being hoaxed. A pattern redrawn. But what about the other inheritances? How can you map, select, test and transform those? The stories. The questions. About a tropical hat and a pistol under the tablecloth. About steaming moambe dishes. About a parting at night and a dark girl hidden under a canvas. The crumbling past leaves traces. In a walnut tree. In watery eyes. In a bulging scrapbook. How can you write a new story with inherited words?
Performance: Helena Elshout
Concept and text: Helena Elshout, based on interviews with Mieke Elshout
Concept and audio assistance: Fabián Espinosa-Díaz
Concept and dramaturgy: Rona Kennedy
Concept, video and montage: Arnout De Cleene
Migrating Dialogues #3 Ladies’ Choice
I am talking to my mother about drawing lines in the sand. We dance, sing and ask questions to the sea. Why do you need to shake your shoes? We learn new languages, unpack boxes, dig up memories and blind spots. How do we map our migrations, define our boundaries? Maybe we are not always kind, but learning to put our foot down is courage enough.
Migrating Dialogues #2 Spaghetti Junction
Spaghetti Junction is about my time as a student in London and my arrival in Belgium. In the Queerkaffee in a squat in Ghent, I meet Lola, an elusive opera singer. Lola and I are two British women who somehow find ourselves in Belgium. Roughly the same age and social class, our lives are like Spaghetti Junction: crossing paths, intersecting and departing. We are both so called ‘expats’. But what does that actually mean?
In September 1998, Lola and I both leave the UK for Belgium. Why not, I can always go back if it doesn’t work out. I’ll see how it goes. On the 22nd of September 1998, Samira Adamu is murdered by the two policemen charged with her forced deportation. A third films everything.
Migrating Dialogues #1 Inheriting the Empire
In Inheriting the Empire I am having an ongoing a conversation with my dad about my childhood in South-Africa, the UK and Ohio. About apartheid, boarding schools and terrorism. About spiders, sick bags and hand grenades. About shame, anger and silence.
It is the 6 September 1970. My mum and dad are flying for the first time in their lives. It won’t be their last time.
Everything is new, exciting, strange. My dad is 22, my mum has just turned 23. They are newlyweds but this is not their honeymoon.
They are emigrating.
The 6th of September 1970 is ‘Skyjack Sunday’.
Performance: Rona Kennedy
Concept and text: Rona Kennedy, based on interviews with William Kennedy (#1), Ademilola Oduwole (#2) and Audrey Kennedy (#3)
Concept, sound design, editing: Fabián Espinosa-Díaz
Concept and dramaturgy: Helena Elshout