UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, 7th Annual International Postgraduate Conference

Inclusion Exclusion

16-18th February 2006

Thursday 16 February 2:30 – 4:00: Panel B3: Portrayal of Minorities

Suzana Milevska (Goldsmiths College): ‘Non-Schengen art: the phantasm of belonging’

The enlargement of Europe loudly promises inclusion but it is actually based on differentiating Schengen from non-Schengen states. This led to a certain tension between already included countries and the aspiring applicants that are yet to be admitted. The evident tension is based on the manipulation with phantasma of inclusion, belonging, participation, or membership.

My paper deals with a contemporary art phenomenon that emerged in the countries that are not part of the European Union. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a great number of contemporary art projects are concerned with the continuously changing borders between Schengen and non-Schengen states. It is not surprising, if one takes into account that each artist coming from a non-Schengen country, in order to participate at an international project, needs at least one month to collect all the required documents for a Schengen visa. While opposing to the strict visa and passport regimes which make their life as free-lance artists impossible, artists imagine performances, objects, installations, video or photography projects that are often clandestine attempts for finding a way to trick the political system. Therefore, one can say that they use their profession and mediums in a quite different way than it has been used before.

Disguise, lying, hiding, and other performative strategies are used as a means for the art actions that are sometimes illegal and dangerous. Instead to mime or criticise the reality, the artists enter its order and art becomes a part of everyday life. Moreover, not only does art become part of reality but also it simultaneously changes it inside out and artists become agents of such transformations. These projects change the regimes of representations that are dependent on state power as well as the way in which art functions. Therefore, in the context of my paper I will also look at this kind of projects as into a unique way of entanglement of different life realms (social, economical or political) that deconstructs the understanding of art as an elitist and privileged system of signification isolated within aesthetics.

During my presentation, I want to focus on several art projects that deal with visas, passports, and immigration policy of EU in general. For example, I will present a series of projects realised by NSK and IRWIN (Slovenian group of artists) dealing with the imaginary state "in time": their Neue Slovenische Kunst that issues passports and has its "army". I will also focus on the series of three projects Crossing Borders by Tanja Ostojic, artist from Serbia) during which in 2000 she illegally crossed the border between Slovenia and Austria, and later married a German husband in a marriage arranged through Internet in order to acquire an EU passport.

©2005, Last updated Sept-05