Research Area Visual and Media Anthropology at DGV Conference 2017
News from Sep 27, 2017
The Research Area Visual and Media Anthropology at Freie Universität Berlin will be presenting the following panel & exhibition as part of the 2017 German Anthropological Association Conference (DGV)
23. Ausstellung: Mediating senses of belonging. An exhibition of practice-based projects in visual and media anthropology
Andreas Ackermann, Universität Koblenz-Landau Cora Bender, Universität Siegen
Anja Dreschke, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Undine Frömming, Freie Universität Berlin
Steffen Köhn, Freie Universität Berlin
As an alternative to the text-based presentations at the DGV-conference the AG Media and AG Visual Anthropology in cooperation with the Research Area Visual and Media Anthropology of the Freie Universität Berlin will organize an exhibition that provides an opportunity to present research-based creative or artistic ethnographic works. Taking up the general topic of the conference we are looking for projects that deploy the experimental and sensory potentials of media-based research to explore the affective dynamics of images, sounds and objects with regard to notions of belonging. A special focus is on the question of how new media technologies, especially digital media, are used in creating and breaking forms of collectivity. The exhibition will be open for audio-visual, experimental or artistic formats that explore and represent anthropological knowledge such as documentary and fiction films, animations, video or photo essays, websites and web-based projects, field recordings and soundscapes, drawings and paintings, comics, sculptures and objects, installations or performances. The major selection criterion will be the intention to explore methodological and epistemological potentials of non-textual approaches expressed in the project. An accompanying panel of the AG Media will provide the opportunity to present a paper that reflects on the research.
Exhibition Space 1 (Room J 32/102. Rost- und Silberlaube):
Mediating Senses of Belonging. Practice-based Projects in Visual and Media Anthropology.
Opening: Thursday, October 5th, 6pm
Exhibition talks with the artists: Saturday, October 7th, 11am
All wedding wishes
Kate Blackmore, Freie Universität Berlin
Fairfield, in Sydney’s western suburbs, is home to Australia’s largest Assyrian community. Assyrian weddings are the biggest in the region - they are major cultural events where ancient and modern rituals collide. Kate Blackmore’s 2- channel video installation All Wedding Wishes explores the significance of Fairfield's Assyrian-Australian weddings through the experience of first generation Australian bride, Nahren Georges. Weaving together interviews, observational sequences and surreal musical interludes by popular local Assyrian wedding singer Sonia Odisho, the work also illuminates the important function of the wedding videographer in mediating the event to family members remaining in Iraq. All Wedding Wishes goes behind the spectacle to reveal how Assyrian-Australian weddings offer a form of escapism, cultural connection and community cohesion for those living in diaspora. The work was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in partnership with PYT Fairfield & the Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture & Trauma Survivors (STARTTS).
Waiting for the tide to turn. On the politics of volunteering for refugees at the European borders
Brigitte Borm, Freie Universität Berlin
Based on two months of fieldwork in Lesvos, in which Brigitte Borm became a volunteer herself, the installation examines the material, sensorial, spatial and political dimensions of the volunteering practice. Through photography, audio and moving image the installation explores audio-visual and artistic strategies in representing this type of anthropological knowledge. A vast image of the sea is projected onto the back wall. Immerse yourself in spotting for boats, listening to interviews with other volunteers, and wait. Countering this, a looped fragment shows someone running towards a boat landing, evocative of the adrenaline that many volunteers described about helping boat landings. On the opposite side, five postcards depicting objects used by volunteers and refugees are hanging. Feel free to take one as a souvenir. Beyond the spectacle and heroic representation, the focus on the practice of volunteering can be understood as a critical gesture to move the gaze from ‘the refugee’ towards the European response.
Memory is not about the past. Walking as a method. Accessing different layers of Memory in relation to urban space
Anne Chahine, Freie Universität Berlin
The project “Memory is Not About the Past” aims to understand how former East Germany is remembered in accordance with the national historic discourse today. It focuses on members of the Third Generation East, meaning individuals born in the GDR between 1975 and 1985, who experienced the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 as a child or young adolescent. The participants of the research were asked to take a walk through their former childhood neighbourhood in Berlin and articulate their thoughts while moving through the area. The performance-like movement of the body functions as a catalyst for emerging stories and memories from the past. With every step the individuals reclaim their childhood neighbourhood and at the same time positions his or herself in the present day. The urban space of present Berlin gives access to stories of communal solidarity, social change but also a certain estrangement from the city.
Disrupted belongings: Visualising forced displacement
Valerie Hänsch, Universität Bayreuth
My photo essay intends to explore how citizens aim to visually document, witness and communicate a silenced history of forced displacement at the Fourth Nile Cataract in the Sudan. The photographs were taken in collaboration with my research interlocutors. They were shot with a simple consumer camera by myself and my research partners. In 2008/09 the newly constructed Merowe Dam impounded the river Nile and flooded the inhabited villages along the river. The inhabitants placed great importance to provide visual counter-evidence against hegemonic discourses of successful resettlement and development. Image taking aimed at documenting the flight and the struggle to stay and to re-build a life in the homeland. Of equal importance for the inhabitants was the visual documentation of how life looked like before the displacement took place. To provide a glimpse into the experiences of displacement, I decided to order the series of photographs chronologically. By way of the specific assembly of the photos, I try to express the experiences of alienation, of a world falling apart, its fragmentation as well as its simultaneous re-formation.
¿Quién sos vos? – Who are you?
Thomas John, Universität Münster
This audio-visual installation mediates issues of belonging among young indigenous people from Chiapas (South Mexico), who are routinely exposed to a very contested affective climate while moving within urban public spheres. The exhibit focuses on the young Maya-Tsotsil poet and social activist Xun Betan. It combines photos (mostly selfies), video-poems, video- performance with fragments of text from interviews with him. The audio- visual medium is aimed at evoking a feeling for the complex context-specific issues of belonging and the subjectivity of the protagonist. In the past, experiences of social exclusion and discrimination have led Xun Betan to negate his own cultural background. However, over the years he has re- appropriated his relationship to the indigenous community and found contemporary artistic ways of expressing that within a multicultural urban sphere. His artistic practice has a profound personal dimension as it re- negotiates his emotional belonging. However, he articulates these concerns equally in the public sphere as a way to intervene in the affective relations that other young indigenous people experience in their day-to-day life while living in the city.
Kayeu Malem, Tulin Sagum // Yesterday's trees, tomorrow's seeds
Blake Paul Kendall, Freie Universität Berlin
The notion of Nicholas Mirzoeff's "Autoimmune Climate-Changing Capitalism Syndrome" (2014: 215) is re-imagined in this practice-led-research that explores the relationship of Penan youth with the environment post-logging in Sarawak, Malaysia. This moving-image installation delves into the relationship of the screen and the participants, tracking the smartphone as employed in the lives of the Penan youth, negotiating the relationship of an omnipresent su'ho (the past - pre-logging) and a present reality of beh pun ringget (don't have money). This web of economic and environmental factors is explored as a montage of moving images and sound exploring sensorial potential of the dissemination of knowledge as experience. A pixelated language of the anthropocene as a dialect of movement, or further more 'motion blur', imposes a sensorial enquiry into the murip jalan (Life with the Roads). This mediated (re)search responds to the anthropological notion of 'distance' by inviting the 'audience' to emerged in the screen... When the evenings are busied with a generator-powered television, when the days are playing games on the smart phone, when the dowai dowai lakeu pakei gum (slowly walking by foot) is replaced with the motion blur of motorbikes on the roads - How do the Penan youth engage with the forest?
To declare one’s hand – pictures on the table, pictures on the move
Ulf Neumann, Köln
Simone Pfeifer, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz Photo installation
The project ‘To Declare One’s Hand’ is an experimentation with imagery and a visual dialog between an artist and a media anthropologist. Starting point of the artistic-anthropological co-operation are the two archives of images and fieldwork material of the two collaborators, artist and designer Ulf Neumann and media and visual anthropologist Simone Pfeifer. Like in a card game the two collaborators take turns in putting one image after the other on the table, arrange them, cut them, and re-assemble them. In showing the process of the manipulation of images, relating the photographs on the surface of a table, the associations and the system of valuation are made accountable. Collage, assemblage and the gif-Format allow for a focus on migration, mobility and belonging in the still photograph, developing a critical and reflexive visual perspective. The images the collaborators are working with are themselves condensed cultural products. Through connecting finished entities and the aesthetics of migration, femininity, family history or religion in new ways, the images speak to each other and sometimes offer new ways of knowing that go beyond intellectual understanding.
Face to face – face to screen
Pip Hare, Universität Siegen
Bina Mohn, Universität Siegen Astrid Vogelpohl, Universität Siegen Video installation
Three screens exhibit parallel arrangements of audio-visual film fragments: dense miniatures in which small children in families with smartphones and digital devices meet ethnographers with cameras. The cameras focus on almost wordless practices of looking and of relating to someone and something in the everyday world of digitalized childhood. The installation has been produced by the camera ethnography team in the project “Early Childhood and Smartphone” (Jutta Wiesemann) within the Collaborative Research Centre “Media of Cooperation” (University of Siegen). The ethnographic installation offers an analytically-structured space of perception (Bina Mohn), in which visitors are invited to immerse themselves: to perceive, distinguish, compare, and combine the manifold practices screened. As they look, walk, and shift their perspectives, viewers research the audio-visual material themselves.
Rhythms of belonging
Annalisa Ramella, Universität Siegen
This contribution presents an experiment to grasp senses of belonging in mobile settings through audio-visual means. Drawing from my fieldwork on the road with touring musicians, the piece explores the concept of “attuning” (Ingold/Vergunst 2008; Edensor 2008) through both, musical and mobile practices. Through a set of audio headphones, recipients are invited to perceive the process of tuning an instrument on stage and witness the finding of the “right tone”. Simultaneously, on a screen, practices of finding one’s place within itinerant spaces and of constituting instances of belonging will be made visible through the camera’s tracing of a precise movement of a hand, of finding the exact position of the screw to tune the drums or guitar, of tape-marking the instruments’ positions on a stage, of installing one’s body in a van seat, or of setting a filter to a digital photo that best portrays the current mood. These two levels of attunement - visually and sonically - will lead the recipient through phases of arhythmic as well as rhythmic elements, coinciding in what can be described as “rhythms of belonging” - a certain state of bodily comfort and familiarity within space and sound.
Wetland stories: an ontological cartography
Sara Wiederkehr González, Freie Universität Berlin
Wetland Stories is a representation of the experiences and practices of fishermen –and women and cockle pickers in constant tension with the global context. The perception of the environment and the construction of territory is understood as a constant dialogue between the localities and the economic and development guidelines determined by the center for the peripheries. The use of cross media to explore this problematic creates a space where the local stories get juxtaposed to the function assigned to the region by the world-system within the logic of the distribution of territory, capital and resources. At the same time, territorialities are constructed in local dynamics allowing a space for personal and sensible stories to take place and to resist in their singularity.
Exhibition Space 2 (Room JK 31/125. Rost- und Silberlaube)
Opening: Thursday, October 5th, 6pm
Exhibition talks with the artists: Saturday, October 7th, 10pm
Master’s Program in Visual and Media Anthropology - 2017 Graduate section
This section of the exhibition hosts the projects of the graduating students of the Master’s Program in Visual and Media Anthropology for the year 2017.
Of hopes and borders: Migrant experiences at the French-Italian frontier
Dario Bosio, Freie Universität Berlin
“Of Hopes and Borders” is a visual ethnography investigating the everyday reality of African migrants stuck on the French-Italian border in Ventimiglia, Italy. After French authorities suspended free circulations through their border, hundreds of migrants have suddenly found themselves stuck on the Italian side of the border, living rough as they look for ways to cross into France through secret - and often deadly - mountainous paths or with the help of a network of people smugglers. The photo-based series reflects the fragmented nature of the research conducted for a period of one month in the town of Ventimiglia, as the author worked with several young adults from Sub-Saharan Africa in the creation of a visual narrative that would investigate how the border is perceived by those who are most directly affected by its existence. The frontier becomes in this sense a place where the migrants - deprived of the sense of agency naturally embedded in the act of moving forward - look for other ways of staying active, for example through the use of imagination shaping their hopes and dreams or through the rejection of institutional help as a way of emboldening their sense of independence.
The numerous thoughts and things
Lum Çitaku, Freie Universität Berlin
Following people, relations, movements, projects, interfaces, and stories that come to being at Hacker-space, FOSS movement and the wider interactive media producing community in Prishtina, the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Paris, A Maze - Independent Games Festival in Berlin, and a number of other physical and virtual sites, Lum Çitaku’s multi-sited interactive film and research project investigates the lives of digital creators through analyzing with them their current relationships with their formed philosophies, their daily engagements and their creations. The numerous paths that can be taken in the interactive film mirror the open-endedness of life and the particular process of research itself. They evoke experiences, intuitions, sensitivities, patterns and variations by analyzing the ways in which these have taken form and mapping the different systems, contexts and mediums of education through which they were given meaning. Brought together on a game engine the film poses an arrangement that plays with and stretches the ontologies, epistemologies, and significances of montage and the cut.
Figuring a home
Rika Febriyani, Freie Universität Berlin
A subsidized apartment acquisition program was launched in 2006 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Kalibata City became the first in a series of proposed “1,000 Towers”. Since then, similar housing complexes have emerged across the city. Frequent complaints that center on poor infrastructural conditions and narrow underserviced space influences the ways and degree to which it is possible to treat these apartments as a home. But, as this subsidized apartment scheme purportedly addresses proven backlogs in the provision of affordable housing within strategic locations, it is likely to become the predominant mode of housing provision in Jakarta. The main question of this work, ‘what is the meaning of home?’ emerges partly from the way most residents are hesitant to designate their living place in Kalibata City as ‘my home’, and rather cite it as ‘my place’. There are gaps between their familiar images concerning what constitutes a house, based on physical characteristics, density and size, as well the ways the extensive heterogeneity of Kalibata in terms of residential composition, temporalities of residence and the proliferation of economic activities diverge from the family- based atmosphere of their former neighborhoods.
The Culture of Paperwork
Elizabeth Glauser, Freie Universität Berlin
The Culture of Paperwork was created as a visual representation of the research undertaken by Elizabeth Glauser for her thesis at Freie University’s MA Visual and Media Anthropology program, which focuses on exploring the experience of Pakistani asylum-seekers in Germany with bureaucracy and paperwork. Presented in the form of a multimedia art installation, The Culture of Paperwork aims to depict the issues of dehumanisation of the system’s actors and fetishism of paperwork as experienced by the four participants of this project. Through the juxtaposition of photography, interview transcripts, archival documents, video, and audio, the installation utilises montage to create a dialogue between its different elements presented, as well as a reflection on the methodology employed for the project.
Enjoy the View
Juan Jose Zenteno Pacheco, Freie Universität Berlin
A sensorial audio-visual project representing a common space with different times and origin concentrated in two cities from Bolivia. Using a public transport as a study platform. A cable car, the transport connects the cities of El Alto and La Paz. It opens a cultural identity analysis from the individual’s observation through the cable car window over La Paz city. The project considers the viewed identity of the other and of oneself as part of the society. In recent years, the population has increasingly interacted by visiting places of recreation in the opposite city. The identity of the individual is also questioned by the Bolivian’s internal migration between these two cities.
Exploring the notion of neuroanthropology in young architects José Pablo Guzmán, Freie Universität Berlin
How do urban designers integrate neuroanthropology into their practice? Is there an interdisciplinary communication gap in the urban design process? This project explores, through participative observations and semi-structured interviews (1) the designers’ personal conceivements and (2) how and if they integrate neuroanthropology into their work.
Donating Digital Data Shadows
Joanna Sleigh, Freie Universität Berlin
Never before has there been such an abundance of data collected about our habits, actions and inner thoughts. From health to interpersonal connections, from public administration to security, there is an expanding range of human activities being documented. Every interaction with the digital environment leaves a data trail, and whole industries exist to collect, store, clean and sell this (exponentially) increasing amount of data. Of primary value is the combination of these data trails into what is termed a digital data shadow. Through the use of a digital anthropological methodology grounded in phenomenology, this research investigates the motivations and experiences of individuals who are donating their digital data shadows to the platform OurDataHelps.org. This platform is as an open data initiative advancing medical health research of suicide and mental health. The aim of this research is to understand how digital data donors experience living in a world in which access to data has become a new fabric of social life. This project belongs to the dominion of research documenting citizens putting data to new uses, developing new rationalities and alternative social imaginaries around datafication.
Film program 1 (Room KL 32/123. Rost- und Silberlaube) Thursday, October 5th, 2017, 2pm. Filmmakers will be present.
Between Islam and the sacred forest
Martin Gruber, Universität Bremen Frank Seidel, University of Florida, USA Film
An anthropologist and a linguist from Germany are trying to understand a ritual, taking place in a small village on the coast of Guinea, West Africa. They are told that two conflicting ceremonies take place during a four-day event commemorating a recently deceased woman: A Muslim celebration of the 40th day after death conducted by a local Imam and the Mkisaata ritual, performed by the members of a Nalu female secret society in honour of its deceased member. As the involved men explain the filmmakers their respective version of the events, the researchers get increasingly drawn into the ritual by the women of the secret society and become part of their performance. “Between Islam and the Sacred Forest“ is about the women’s power to create their own space in a male dominated society. At the same time it deals with the possibilities and impossibilities of audio-visual ethnography.
Rattle them bars
Nena Hedrick, Freie Universität Berlin
Centered on a year of the production of a revolutionary East Texas prison radio show run by ex-convicts, Rattle Them Bars is an experimental documentary film with the goal of creating a multi-vocal counter- conversation about the prison system and the prison experience. For over 40 years, the show has connected prisoners to people on the outside through voices, providing bits of lives, stories, connections and relationships. It is temporary, it is intimate and it is a reality which cannot exist completely. This is a multi-authored story created within the rigid structure of solitary confinement and the temporality of radio broadcasts and memory. It is an audio-visual a montage of field footage, voices of families speaking to prisoners, and letters from prisoners in solitary confinement, It is an audio-visual exploration of sensory deprivation, disjointed communication, and outsider media appropriation.
Addressing the issue of visual misrepresentation of Lampedusa
Côme Ledésert, University of Westminster, London, UK
Toni is a fisherman in Lampedusa. He sees men, women and children arriving from other continents. Who are these migrants traveling by sea on an island at Europe's doors, departing again as soon as they can if they haven't perished on their way? Through his testimony, intercut by animation that take him on a journey as forced witness, this documentary invites us to question our perception of migrants in Europe - between our tenacious fantasies, Toni's reality and the persisting dreams of migrants.
The memory of the 25th hour
Sungeun Kim, Freie Universität Berlin
This film is the visual part of the visual anthropological research on the villagers’ 10-year-long resistance against the naval base construction in Gangjeong village, Jeju Island, South Korea. The research has been conducted in duration of 3 years (2013-16). The written thesis contextualizes the anti-naval base movement in light of the US involvement in South Korean military “the locally experienced global” as well as the marginalization of Jeju Islanders since the April 3rd uprising in1948 and massacres thereafter. The visual research focuses on the everyday life of the the villagers and resident activists affected by the indeterminacy of displacement. It also deals with the concept of the 25th hour, the imaginary term mentioned by an activist at the moment facing the police crackdown on the protestors’ encampment: “We’re living the 25th hour.” The sustainability of the hour becomes questioned throughout the visual research, as the resistance of the villagers and activists has continued despite the state of exile and disappearance of the sites of resistance.
Decolonizing the non-decolonizable, through the visual auto- ethnography. A useless fiction
Cheong Kin Man, Freie Universität Berlin
A perpetual circle of (not-)doing the decolonization of the non-decolonizable, represented visually in A Useless Fiction. Confused, frustrated but encouraged, the author puts his whole "him" into this film. He approaches his life struggles as a dilemma between the filmed and the non-filmed, the translation and the impossibility of communication, the voice-over and the subtitles. As a fan of Kon Ichikawa and Yasunari Kawabata, and a lover of Michio Takeyama's novel "Harp of Burma", he tries to express that complexity in a series of multilayered fictive/true stories through visual, audial and, especially, textual manipulations while questioning the power structure of image quality. Mixing his banal daily life, his past, and the filmmaking process, the author raises several anthropological and life questions on nature, origin, language, non-existence, identity, visual media and dominant cultures. He strives to find answers in a circle of interpreting himself in a conflict between oppressed and powerful languages, retranslating what is translated and letting others reinterpret him from both within and without the film. Everything becomes useless when one transcends boundaries inside the mind.
Arjang Omrani, Universität Münster
Film (Work in Progress)
The collaborative project of audio-visual anthropology explores the 8 months (mobile phone) video diaries of Asef, an Afghan refugee boy, in which he shares his everyday experiences, as well as the more in-depth memories and dreams. The collection creates sensory and intimate experience and insight to his life while portraying a refugee's life with an existential and anthropological viewpoint. The sense of duration and suspension, detachment and belonging to the space and locations he ought to stay, the emotional flux between hope, hopelessness, helplessness, the desire and the battle for a better life condition are the major significant elements that Asef diaries are sharing with its audience. In this experiment of shared anthropology, I have been teaching and supervising Asef about filming and the ideas of sensory story telling and montage in order for him to be able to apply them in his own creative way in filming process. The film therefore is edited (by me) based on the a.m ideas, while constantly updating him and receiving feedback.
Anomaly acquired! A nocturnal visit to a museum
Ehler Voss, Universität Siegen
This film is based on anthropological fieldwork among Ghost Hunters in California. Ghost Hunting has become a very popular practice of ghost communication in the US and in many other parts of the world. With the help of a lot of technical media such as audio recorders, cameras, modified radios, as well as a variety of measuring devices, Ghost Hunters try to make something invisible visible, perceptible, and audible. Instead of showing the broader context of Ghost Hunting, the aim of the film is to focus on the actual practices of particular ghost hunters and in so doing to mimetically make perceptible moments of thrill, surprise, shudder, and excitement as well boredom and confusion. It shows how human mediums and technical media are interwoven, how bodily feelings are cooperatively translated into intersubjective comprehensible meaning, and how seriousness and entertainment are inseparably compounded.
The origin tapes
Beina Xu, Freie Universität Berlin
The Origin Tapes is an essay film borne from the discovery of a stash of unseen VHS tapes recording my migration from China to the U.S. in the 1980s. Spellbound, I digitized and watched them for the first time. The resulting project is an autoethnographic endeavor undertaken with the belief that by examining ourselves, we challenge long-standing conventions about what constitutes knowledge. As a body of research, it seeks to examine our own subjectivities and their fractured, sensorial representations. I explore three central themes raised by this encounter with visual vestiges of the past: medium, memory, and history. What kind of knowledge do the tapes produce, and how does it construct my understanding of my past—and thus my present? I want to examine our relationship to the artifacts of our personal lives: how do we understand our condition through the audiovisual media we generate and consume? The Origin Tapes engages a kind of media archaeology that probes the museumification of our lives: the archiving and interplay of mediums from analog to digital. As Catherine Russell articulated it best, “The imperial eye looking back on itself is also a subject in history."
Film program 2 (Room KL 32/123. Rost- und Silberlaube) Friday, October 5th, 2017, 2pm. Filmmakers will be present.
Kill or Die
Sue Beukes, Freie Universität Berlin
In comedic circles in South Africa, the phrase “kill it” means you’ve done your job – you have made the audience laugh. If you “die” on stage—well, it means your jokes just weren’t funny. “Kill or Die” is a film about the experience of four aspiring black comedians trying to make it in South Africa’s competitive mainstream comedy scene.
The legacy of Apartheid is such that racial divisiveness is still pervasive. Experiences must therefore be understood within this context and the comedy scene is no different, as Ebenhaezer Dibakwane, one of the film’s protagonists, states, “The black comedian is in a space where he doesn’t want to be the black comedian, he wants to be the comedian -- the world- renowned comedian. But he’s in a space in South Africa, where the narrative and the story are that what people want and need to talk about is race.” The film therefore explores how participants navigate issues such as politics, race, making ends meet as well as the small triumphs along the way.
Let’s Wear Pixels
Yoonha Kim, Freie Universität Berlin
Nowadays, designers can make clothes with 3D-modelling software and bring them to real life in forms of holograms instead of materials. Hence, the ways we express ourselves through fashion can be limitless, combining the pleasure of wearing physical clothing with opaque lights. We can wear things, which were impossible to wear before, such as smoke, or a dress as big as the Eiffel tower. The film sheds a light on the moment before a new era starts in fashion. Closely following fashion designers Amber, Zil and Jacob in Amsterdam, the film focuses on their desires and how they implement
technologies into the traditional fashion design process as well as the way they collaborate with 3D- graphic designers and developers.
Click to remain. An essay film on digital political activism, Brexit and love
Valerie Kittlitz, Freie Universität
Maren Wickwire, Freie Universität Berlin Film
‘Click to Remain’ is a short essay film on digitally networked activism and its promotion through the online petitioning platform Avaaz. Prior to the Brexit referendum in 2016, Avaaz called out to the recipients of its media alerts to demonstrate in the shape of a ‘kiss chain’, declared ‘to send a signal of love’. The film follows the accounts of demonstrators in the wake of the vote, exploring their experiences with Avaaz, Brexit, and their own understanding of love. As the interviews show, interpretations of this feeling are not necessarily congruent or easily put, but hope is turned to account by Avaaz itself. The film examines the implications of digitally networked activism both on an emotional as well as an economic level. Where citizens long deeply to react to the results of global capitalism, apparent in the issues Avaaz addresses - climate change, animal abuse, political upheaval and war - their online activities are being capitalized on. The call to action, however, remains a flexible one: in a mobile and digitally active society, as one participant puts it, 'you can spread out your commitment to almost everything.'
Olivier Llouquet, Freie Universität Berlin
The film tells the stories of three asylum seekers from Zimbabwe who have been living in Britain for more than 15 years with unresolved status. As they are not allowed to work while their claim is being processed, every day is a struggle to do something productive, get out of the house and find ways to not stay stuck waiting in this state of limbo spatial routines, the film attempts to humanize the lived consequences of focusing on daily rhythms and restrictive immigration policies on those who are subjected to them. While they sometimes run in parallel, the diversity and uniqueness of these personal trajectories deconstructs the stereotyped representation of ‘otherness’ transported by the media and aims to re-transcribe the emotional
entanglements, social frictions but also celebrates the resilience and creativity deployed by refugees during their life in exile
Brittany Nugent, Freie Universität Berlin
My research applies Imagined Communities to the digital age, in which smartphones have become an invaluable tool for migration. I investigate how mobile devices influence the way members of the Melissa Network, a resource and advocacy center for migrant women in Athens, Greece, relate to migration, home and their future host nations. In a climate of deep uncertainty, I explore how the traits of desired asylum states are imagined, portrayed and communicated on smartphones. Senses of belonging transform as these destinations are experienced digitally outside the boundaries of their geographical contexts and in everyday life in Athens. As an in-house videographer and researcher at the Melissa Network, I present documentary footage of members’ creative imaginings, mobile correspondence and video contributions to an ongoing weekly film club that I co-moderate.
Dongjoo Seo, Freie Universität Berlin
This film deals with the current phenomena surrounding the cultural, economic, political, and social reality of the filmmaker’s homeland, (South) Korea. However, a scientific analysis of Korea is not a major goal of this work. Rather, it focuses on the specific individuals and their surroundings with the aim to contemplate its relationship in a broader sense. Combining anecdotes of various individuals with the filmmaker’s physical and mental journey through a self-reflexive, multi-sited, and phenomenological approach, it ponders upon the relationship between being and the world, Self and the Other, and body and mind.
Googlism. A digital religion
Joanna Sleigh, Freie Universität Berlin
Using promotional Google footage & interview recordings, this short film explores the diversity of perspectives embodied in the digital parody religion The Church of Google, aka Googlism. This is an online community, not officially associated with Google, who believe Google is the closest thing to a God that can be scientifically proven. Centralized at http://churchofgoogle.org/ this community embodies a constant clash and growth of postmodern ideas with pre-modern ideas regarding concepts of science, concepts of history, concepts of evolution and concepts of religion. It is this intellectual non-violent clash that motivates engagement and highlights the incredibly subjective nature of spirituality in today’s globalized, digitized, and content saturated society.
Together Apart is an intimate family portrait of two Igorot women, a mother and a daughter, who leave the Philippines to seek work in Cyprus. The film portrays issues of separation and hope across three generations. Guil Ann, a twenty-five-year-old woman from the Cordilleras, follows her own mother Carren to the other side of the world. As the most eastern outpost of the European Union, Cyprus has one of the lowest wages for migrant domestic helpers, but still recruits large numbers of workers. Only months after mother and daughter reunite on the island, unexpected events lead to Carren’s forced departure. Having lived abroad for almost two decades, the mother has to adjust to a new life in the Philippines, while the daughter is passed the baton of having to provide cross-generational income. Shifting between the temporary present and future imagination of serial migrants, the film contemplates notions of self-hood, belonging and care, sharing insights into the complex emotional web of transnational migration as it transcends victimization and sacrifice.