This selection of my paintings date back to the earliest, painted in 1995, at the end of the Bosnian Crisis, entitled ‘Tales from Europe’. Two decades later the crisis of forced migration in and around the world continues to balloon.
Bodies in Transit’ is the thematic title of our third Translation(s) International Video Project. It explores one of the most topical issues of contemporaneity; the traversing of borders. Migration, immigration, and refugees. People and cultures meeting, mixing, melding or clashing, forcing collectives and individuals to come face to face with difference or similarity, and to consider questions of our underlying humanity. The world is rapidly transforming into a global translation space by the physical movement of people, with consequent mediation and negotiation to establish and understand new personal and collective cultures.
Around fifty years ago as a child I watched avidly the strange surrealistic TV programme for children, made in the DDR and screened in the UK, called ‘Tales From Europe’. Now a cult classic, one tale in particular, the infamous folk tale of the Singing Ringing Tree, frightened most children that watched it, including me. I am led to believe that there must be a research paper out there somewhere mapping the relationship of this series to the contemporary Fear of Europe amongst the hordes of British 50 something Brexiteers.
It seems to have worked a different magic within me, as along with the fear came a large dose of enchantment, with weird juxtapositions of real actors and elementary special effects, amidst bizarre almost psychedelic settings.
The visual impact of those folk tales has leeched into my paintings, along with 18th century chap book (The World Turned Upside Down) imagery here and there over the decades, but perhaps with increasing resonance in the here and now, given the current context of international territorial instability and familiar notions of order being usurped in increasingly divergent and problematic ways.