Mind The Map – Don’t fence me in

BT ad. Zed Nelson

One specific content matter keeping our thoughts and work occupied since months, if not years, is about people risking their lives in order to reach Europe by boat. Human beings deciding to leave their homes, their families and friends behind, as their everyday lives became unbearable. Naturally that includes investigating the background, stories, history and current developments right up to possible futures of migration, the lore and law of the sea, socio-economic development and side effects of neo-imperialism.

People in search of a better life, for a chance to not only save their own existence but as well those of their family, often endure nameless torments along their escape, if surviving it at all. A vast number of those coming through the trip, eventually arriving in Europe turn into so called irregular or illicit migrants, branded and treated as criminals. Justified by and through numberless regulations of the European Union (i.e. us all), as a result of a highly developed and still growing shielding-policy of the European external borders.

It is an overwhelming, worrying, frightening, highly current and politically explosive subject, as every day’s newspapers and headlines show. It seems almost impossible to grasp the vastness of the theme, to understand all intricate threads and aspects knotted together, to combine backgrounds, historical and current developments in a way that is not too trivial, too naive or just too biased.

We experienced phases, during which we had to withdraw ourselves forcefully from our research in order to not buckle under it. Still we just don’t want to let it go. As difficult as is seems to work with that theme we are convinced we have to keep taking it on.

Already last year we started to develop a Physical Narrative, called “Mind the Map” (working title), a fictional narrative embracing sea-migration towards Europe, seen through the eyes of an unsuspecting sailor, following her instinct and the law of the sea by rescuing a handful boat-people in trouble in the Meditteranean. A fictional but all too real story of the trust-fund kid Christine Kollan, who is wrenched from her comfortable life as she rescues floundering migrants in the middle of an enjoyable sailing cruise, forced to compare the freedoms she enjoys with the freedoms they seek.

We elaborated version after version, sketching and re-sketching, adapting, discarding, improving. In December 2014 we took up again the momentarily pool of ideas and shaped, as it looks right now, a rather satisfying (what an inappropriate adjective in this context!) and maybe even final version of the story as a base for the Physical Narrative.

We just (re-)started with the production phase, kicking off the fabrication of props needed, collecting, composing and manufacturing all media-elements to be used. Following and integrating current headlines, still researching the history of European immigration and emigration, try to find the origins and convictions of a repulsing European policy, comparing figures and incidents. Above all, we are trying to find people directly concerned, so as to not only put a fictional story on display or showing overwhelming statistics, but to also give those being stamped as criminals a voice in our work.

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