[-empyre-] Welcome to February 2016: Across borders and networks: migrants, asylum seekers, or refugee?

Renate Terese Ferro rferro at cornell.edu
Sun Feb 7 13:40:04 AEDT 2016

Welcome to February, 2016 on –empyre soft-skinned space: 
Across borders and networks: migrants, asylum seekers, or refugee?

Moderated by Ana Valdes, Ricardo Dominguez, and Renate Ferro with invited discussants
Week 1:  Irina Contreras, Babak Fakhamzadeh, Huub Dijstelbloem 
Week 2: Grupo 
Week 3: Tanja Ostojić, Alan Paul, Robert McKee Irwin, Paula Delgado
Week 4: Laila Shereen Sakr, Dr Maurice Stierl

Welcome to the February discussion, “Across borders and networks: migrants, asylum seekers, or refugee?” 

Historically ravaged Barbarians went into Rome and sought shelter because their villages had been burned and their crops wasted. The Romans recognized them as valuable allies.  Given land and tools they became the limitanae Rome shield against other barbarian tribes.

Today we see new migrations and people in distress leave their countries to seek a future for their children. Flows of men, women and children stream into Europe from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. While Islamic terrorism looms internationally tensions between national securities or protecting the rights of those displaced exists. Other international borders such as Mexico and Cuba in North America and Palestine and Israel are affected by this phenomenon. Particularly at stake is how networked lives define their existence between their home country and the paths they take to achieving safety and prosperity for their families. Media reports muddy the clarity between the definition of migrant to asylum seeker to refugee.  National and International law complicate create further layers of innuendo.

This month of February, 2016 we invite the –empyre subscriber list to discuss these issues in our soft-skinned space with our distinguished group of weekly guests.  Looking forward
to it. 

<empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>



Guest Biographies:

Irina Contreras is an interdisciplinary artist and writer, whose individual and collaborative projects examine personal reflections of collective experiences. Her writing has appeared in the anthology Beyond Walls and Cages, which received the Association of Borderlands President Gold Award for 2014. Past texts include the Lambda award winning anthology, Nobody Passes as well as being a regular contributor to make/shift Magazine. She has held residency in Mexico City and Kala in Berkeley, CA. Past performances include Rethinking Power and Resistance in University of Texas in Austin, Chicana Feminisms at Cal State Long Beach and the 2013 Ghetto Biennial in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Irina completed a Dual
Degree MA in Visual and Critical Studies and MFA in Social Practice at CCA in 2015. Current projects explore the (im)possibilities of white race traitors as a multi voiced and web based project entitled "It's Firm Ground Here..." for the Organize Your Own Exhibition in Philadelphia and ongoing web explorations involving public safety, women of color futures andTwitter.

Paula Delgado I was born and lived most of my life in Montevideo, Uruguay, now a 'mature student' doing an MA inLondon since last September. I am a bit of a weirdo: a visual artist and a
feminist, with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Diploma in Gender and public policies. I got a Chevening scholarship to do an MA Culture Industry in Goldsmiths University.
As an artist I work mainly with photography, video and performance, I am interested in the construction of identities-national, personal and gender based. I developed a long term video and photo project about masculinities (Cómo sos tan lindo 2005-2010 <tel:2005-2010>), and I am now working with born blind people. Within the academy I teach 'creative
economics' and 'gender and cultural projects' in CLAEH University, in Uruguay. As part of my MA, I will start working with Angela McRobbie as a research assistant, which at the moment is the most exciting aspect of being in London, besides the music concerts.

Huub Dijstelbloem is Lecturer in Philosophy of Science at the University of Amsterdam and Researcher and Project Leader at the Scientific Council for Government Policy in The Hague (WRR). He was Editor of the International Journal Krisis and is member of several Advisory Boards of Academic Schools (including WTMC and IIS). He was Program Coordinator Technology Assessment at the Rathenau Institute and evaluated Science and Technology projects at Sci-Quest. He studied Philosophy (MA) and Science, Technology and Culture
(MSc) at the University of Amsterdam and in Paris at the Ecole des Mines, supervised by Professor Bruno Latour. He wrote his PhD on the democratic deficits in the political and the scientific decision-making processes at the beginnings of the AIDS-epidemic, environmental problems and BSE. Next to academic and professional publications, Huub is involved as a speaker and opinion maker in public debates about science, technology and society. Some of his recent publications in English are Migration and the New Technological Borders of Europe (Palgrave, 2011) and Rethinking the Human Condition. Exploring Human Enhancement (Rathenau, 2008). In Dutch his most recent books and co-edited volumes are Bestemming gewijzigd. Moderniteit en stedelijke transformaties (2013), Onzekerheid troef. Het betwiste gezag van de wetenschap (2011), De Migratiemachine (2009) and Politiek vernieuwen. Op zoek naar publiek
in de technologische samenleving (2008) and Het gezicht van de publieke zaak. Openbaar bestuur onder ogen (2010) published by Amsterdam University Press.

Babak Fakhamzadeh builds  web and mobile applications, mostly for clients in the ‘global south', and mostly for media and NGOs. Personal (non commissioned work) mostly involves
projects around city discovery.  He will soon be releasing 'Kompl' http://komplapp.com <http://komplapp.com/>. Other  similar applications include Dérive app, http://deriveapp.com <http://deriveapp.com/> and Soweto Uprisings, http://sowetouprisings.com <http://sowetouprisings.com/>. http://babakfakhamzadeh.com/cv/

Grupo< > creates spaces where different voices, bound together under a broad geopolitical classification, meet to explore questions of identity through art. Our collective efforts include talks, exhibitions, publications, performances and gatherings.

The questions we ask are informed by our liminal condition and the consciousness of cultural and geographic migration. What brings us together is the need to open a context that while defined < > is undefinable and irreducible. Grupo < > generates dialogue and community, grounded by but not limited to the concerns and needs of artists whose practices are interwoven
with the history of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Robert McKee Irwin is Chair of the Graduate Group in Cultural Studies and Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Davis. He is also co-Principal Investigator, with Sunaina Maira, of the UC Davis's Mellon Initiative in Comparative Border Studies: Rights, Containment, Protest (http://borderstudies.ucdavis.edu/). His
current work focuses on migration as a long process characterized by confrontations with many diverse borders, some of which can be crossed and others of which cannot; it focuses on the particular context of migration from Mexico to the United States, and cases of migrants who do not, as George Sánchez articulates it,  "become Mexican American"; more specifically, he is currently working on an article that draws from this project titled "Undocumented Literature."

Tanja Ostojić is a feminist <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist> performance artist <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Performance_art>.Her work draws inspiration from her own experience as a non-European Union citizen, a traveler and female artist. Ostojić has lived in Serbia, Slovenia, France, and Germany, but refuses to claim any particular nationality. In December 2005, Ostojić became well known in Europe as a result of her poster After Courbet, L´origine du Monde, also referred to informally as “EU Panties” The work, a satire of French Realist Gustave Courbet <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustave_Courbet>’s 1866 painting L'Origine du monde <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27Origine_du_monde>, was first displayed on billboards at the public exhibition EuroPart held inVienna <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vienna> in December 2005-January 2006.Ostojić's version displayed her own crotch, clothed in blue underwear complete with EU stars <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_the_European_Union>. The image was meant as an ironic suggestion that foreign women are only welcome in Europe when they drop their underwear. Ostojić's grand theme is the "arrogance of the EU" with regards to the integration of south-eastern Europe <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South-eastern_Europe> into the union. For south-east Europeans, and particularly women, becoming resident in the EU is often only possible through marriage, which Ostojić depicts as a form of prostitution <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution>. From 2000 to 2003, she publicly addressed this issue in an online performance piece, Looking for a husband with a EU passport, in which she presented herself naked and with a shaven head, possibly reminiscent of a prisoner from socialist times.This led to an actual marriage to an artist from Cologne <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cologne>, from whom she then separated in 2005, again as an online performance. http://socialtextjournal.org/periscope_article/crossing-borders-development-of-diverse-artistic-strategies/

Ian Alan Paul is a transdisciplinary artist, curator and theorist living between Oakland, Barcelona, and Cairo. His projects and writing have approached a large variety of topics including the Guantanamo Bay Prison, Fortress Europe, the Zapatista communities, Drone Warfare, and most recently with the military regime in post-coup Egypt. Using diverse media to produce documentary, critical fiction, hacktivism, performance, and simulation, Ian’s work aims to both complicate and defamiliarize our shared sense of politics, ethics, and
aesthetics. Ian has lectured, taught, and exhibited internationally, and has had his work featured in The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, Le Monde, Art Threat, Mada Masr, Jadaliyya, Art Info, and C Magazine. He received his MFA and MA at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2011 and is currently finishing his PhD in UC Santa Cruz.

Laila Shereen Sakr is a digital media theorist, artist, and activist working in social media, digital archives, computer analytics, data visualization, glitch art, live cinema, video installation, and Middle East film and new media. She is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Her work uses digital logic and technique to map how participation in virtual worlds and networked publics has influenced the formation of a virtual body politic. This research led her to design the R-Shief media system for archiving and analyzing
content from social networking sites, and the cyborg representation of VJ Um Amel. Professor Sakr has been a leading voice in the open source movement in Egypt and the Arab world. Sakr has shown in solo and group exhibitions and performances at galleries and museums across the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East, and has published extensively. http://vjumamel.com <http://vjumamel.com/>

Dr Maurice Stierl is Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of California, Davis. His research focuses on migration and border struggles in contemporary Europe and is broadly situated in the disciplines of International Relations, International Political Sociology, and Migration & Border Studies. He concluded his doctoral research in 2014 at the University of Warwick and is the author of the journal article ‘‘No One is Illegal!’ – Resistance and the Politics of Discomfort’ (2012), published in Globalizations. His forthcoming publications will appear in the journals Citizenship Studies, Political Geography, Global Society, and Antipode, as well as in a volume edited by Dr Nicholas De Genova. Dr Stierl is a member of the activist project
WatchTheMed Alarm Phone and the research collectives Kritnet, MobLab, Authority
& Political Technologies and a co-editor of Movements.  

Moderator Biographies:
Ricardo Dominguez is a co-founder of The Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), a group who developed virtual sit-in technologies in solidarity with the Zapatistas communities in Chiapas, Mexico, in 1998. His recent Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab project (http://bang.transreal.org/) with Brett Stalbaum, Micha Cardenas, Amy Sara Carroll, and Elle
Mehrmand, the Transborder Immigrant Tool (a GPS cell phone safety net tool for crossing the Mexico/US border) was the winner of “Transnational Communities Award” (2008), an award funded by Cultural Contact, Endowment for Culture Mexico–US and handed out by the US Embassy in Mexico. It also was funded by CALIT2 and the UCSD Center for the Humanities. The Transborder Immigrant Tool has been exhibited at the 2010 California Biennial (OCMA), Toronto Free Gallery, Canada (2011), The Van Abbemuseum, Netherlands (2013), ZKM, Germany
(2013), as well as a number of other national and international venues. The project was also under investigation by the US Congress in 2009-2010 and was reviewed by Glenn Beck in 2010 as a gesture that potentially “dissolved” the U.S. border with its poetry. Dominguez is an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego, in the Visual Arts Department, a Hellman Fellow, Director of the MFA program, and Principal/Principle Investigator atCALIT2, Chair of Gallery at CALIT2 (http://gallery.calit2.net <http://gallery.calit2.net/>) and the Immersive Lab at SME, UCSD. He also is co-founder of *particle group*, with artists Diane Ludin, Nina Waisman, Amy Sara Carroll, whose art project about nano-toxicology entitled *Particles of
Interest: Tales of the Matter Market* has been presented at the House of World Cultures, Berlin (2007), the San Diego Museum of Art (2008), Oi Futuro, Brazil
(2008), CAL NanoSystems Institute, UCLA (2009), Medialab-Prado, Madrid (2009), E-Poetry Festival, Barcelona, Spain (2009), Nanosférica, NYU (2010), and SOMA, Mexico City, Mexico (2012): http://hemisphericinstitute.org/hemi/en/particle-group-intro.

Ana Valdes was born in Uruguay, South America, in a family of Spanish and Italian emigrants, raised by German nuns. She studied Geography with German maps from 1942 and she
believed firmly that Belgium, Netherlands, France, Norway and Denmark were a part of the Germany. In the maps the nuns used Germany was almost the whole Europe. She was put in prison when she was 19 years old for her political views. Ana belonged to a guerilla group called Tupamaros, at that time she believed in the weapons as a way to change things. She has changed her views, radically, and has been a member of the pacifist group Women in Black for years.

After 4 years in prison she was deported to Sweden where she came of age. In 1982 she published her first book with short stories, awarded by Sorbonne University. She has written and published more than ten books and some of her short stories have been translated into English, French, Greek and Italian, Faber and Faber and Serpent's Tail has published several collections with her work, “The Garden of the Alphabet” and “Columbus's Egg.”She is a bilingual writer and writes both in Swedish and in Spanish.
Ana has also been an independent curator and worked with Swedish visual artist Cecilia Parsberg in Palestine, they created the network “Equator”http://www.ceciliaparsberg.se/equator
She has participated in several debates about violence and representation with Jordan Crandall, “Under fire” (http://www.wdw.nl/wdw_publications/jordan-crandall-under-fire-2/)

Renate Ferro is a trans-media, cross-disciplinary artist who toggles between the creative skins of old and new technologies. Her hybrid artistic projects embrace both socialmand theoretical paradigms of the body. Most recently her work has been featured at The Freud Museum (London), Brief Histories (the United Arab Emerites), The Dorksy Gallery (NY), The Hemispheric Institute and FOMMA (Mexico), and The Janus Pannonius Museum (Hungary), Free University of Berlin (Berlin), Chicago City Arts (Chicago), Tsing Hua University(Beijing China), Hang Zhou Museum of Fine Arts (China), LACDA (Los Angeles), AWOL Gallery (Toronto), and numerous galleries and museums across North America.
Ferro has taught at Cornell University since 2004 in the Collage of Architecture, Art and Planning in the Department of Art. She is the founding director of the collaborative research lab, The
Tinker Factory Lab and is managing moderator of –empyre soft-skinned space.

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