Seeds for Future Memories

Voicing the two ends of migration

A collaboration between the artist residencies Thread in Sinthian, Senegal, and Villa Romana in Florence, Italy

Thirteen artists will travel between Senegal and Italy during the year 2018, confronting the realities at both ends of migration. The aim of this project is not only to use the art platform for research, communication and presentation purposes, but also to gain a new audience and to involve as far as possible the local communities of the African diaspora.

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Socio-cultural center Thread in Sinthian, Southeastern Senegal

Migration between Africa and Europe is not a new phenomenon. Today, tens of thousands of people of Moroccan, Senegalese, Nigerian descent and other nationalities live in Tuscany alone. Culturally they hardly have a presence in the Italian public. With the initiative of Justin Randolph Thompson and Andre Halyard to organize a Black History Month in Florence every February since 2016, the artistic and cultural richness of the African diaspora in the region finds resonance at least temporarily.

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Garden of Villa Romana, Italy

In 2015, the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation opened in Sinthian, a village in the Tambacounda region in southeastern Senegal, the socio-cultural center Thread, which also invites artists to residences. Tambacounda has the highest migration rate in West Africa and is also a crossroads on the dangerous route to Mali and then on to Agadez and Sabha. Less than 10 percent of migrants reach the destination of Europe, where they usually end up in a refugee camp. The others die on the way or are arrested.

Little is known about the reality of the lives of those migrants who make it to Italy (and Europe). Often, in Europe, they complain about the situation in Senegal for their families (both in communication with their families and through continuous weekly money transfers home). In the villages, two or three larger houses usually stand out from the simple huts built by families whose sons or daughters live abroad. However, the presence of these few buildings will hide those who have not come to Europe.

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Performance at Thread, Senegal

On the other hand, if you talk directly to the migrants who live in Italy (and not their families at home), they paint a very different picture. In their opinion, emigration is not worthwhile in the end. It is difficult for them to find work in Europe and the work itself is difficult. They experience the stay in the refugee camps as traumatizing . Their life in Europe is characterized by a devastating loneliness.

Migration will continue and take dramatic proportions. The focus of this project is to be an example in its proximity and continuity, a joyful attempt to understand migration as a forced or voluntary step that challenges new needs and new human relationships.

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Installation at Villa Romana

SEEDS FOR FUTURE MEMORIES seeks to link the two ‘ends’ of migration at the two reference locations: Thread in Sinthian / Tambacounda and Villa Romana in Florence will host artists from both continents to study the migrant abilities of their departure and approach questioning their arrival and working with the local communities. The participating artists will travel back and forth in 2018, concentrating on their own artistic research. Both institutions will develop instruments and formats in parallel to initiate a public dialogue and promote mutual exchange.

In panels the participants will discuss which economic assistance could significantly contribute to reducing the number of people ready to emigrate. Meanwhile, the artists seek to articulate aspects of migration-related narratives and myths (hope, pride, family pressures, and storytelling) that journalists and economists find difficult to approach.

 

 

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