Migration is part of human history. Movements across continents, invasion, colonisation, subjugation of people to foreign rule, resistance against invaders, the building of walls, fortification of borders, hybridisation of identities, emergence of a new populace – all this is related to migration. Migration is not only the migration of people, but also the migration of knowledge, of skills and values and new ways of seeing the world. It is related to suffering and to unforeseeable opportunities, to abominable violence and to new alliances, coalitions and even friendships. Immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers are met with hostility and resistance or are welcomed with empathy and solidarity.

The conflicts related to the surge of refugees in Europe since summer 2015 are paradigmatic in this respect. Humanitarian arguments clashed with pragmatic ones, ethical debates collided with power games, xenophobia met ideological stubbornness. Concerns were raised about how a European identity should be preserved considering the amount of Muslims flooding in. Terror attacks acerbated the debate. It was a debate about values, about identities, about rights and their limits, about who should be entitled to settle down and who should be rejected. And this is can be seen repeated worldwide – one only needs to think about the infamous wall between the US and Mexico, which just doesn’t get built. Populist politics take maximum advantage of the situation and turn the asylum seeker into a hostage to achieve short term power-gains.

getting across addresses the topic of migration in a manifold way. A large part of the exhibition is dedicated to photography that documents real events: the civil war in Bangladesh in 1971 (Kishor Parekh) and events and locations at the border of the European Union (Eva Leitolf, André Lützen). How borders can be crossed and how borders move is addressed in works by Javier Tellez and Roman Signer. Since the 1970s, Australian artist Mike Parr criticizes his country’s politics towards asylum seekers by staging performances during which he gets his eyelids and lips sewn up. This grim approach to the Australian anti-immigration politics finds its counter-balance in the work by Halil Altindere, who combines in his video Homeland Hip- hop music with a staged invasion of refugees into Berlin, or the humorous double-screen projection by Bani Abidi, in which a Lahore based brass band rehearses the US-American anthem. Work by Davor Konjikušić is added to the Croatian exhibition. In Aura: F37 the artist used photographs taken with police thermovision camera that is most commonly used for night surveillance of the outer borders of the European Union.

On display until 8th March 2020.

The exhibition is produced in collaboration with Goethe-Institute Croatia.Goethe-Institute Croatia.