Human migration is the movement of people from one place to another. But what is European identity and how do artists feel when they move to Europe? Can art go beyond the borders?
by Zoi Pampouki
Europe’s history has been shaped by migration. For centuries, people from every field crossed continents to start new lives. Today, people move for many different reasons, including economic, political, cultural, religious, and sometimes, events beyond people’s control, like war or natural disaster, leave them displaced and forced to migrate.
Art is a good starting point to raise awareness, as a way to bring different people who might not be engaged with migrants or other sociopolitical issues into this discussion since art makes people curious and concerned. For many artists, their own migration and those of their ancestors shape their identities and the art they produce.
Europe has always attracted people from around the globe. As people move around, they bring with them their culture, tradition, beliefs and often their culture seeps into and becomes part of the new country’s community. Migration for artists can be a source of creativity, imagination and through their ideas and their artworks, promote cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue.
The creative flair and the variety of art organisations in London and across the UK attract designers, photographers, actors, and painters from around the world. However, as we know so well from stories in the media, this is not an easy journey for a non-European citizen. Refugees struggle to make a life in Europe that offers freedom, security, and justice without internal borders.
People who do manage to assert a place in Europe, tend to isolate themselves or are not able to integrate for a variety of socio-economic reasons, even though the UK and also other European countries have become multicultural and migratory environments. Categorized as refugees or migrant artists, they are often marginalised or excluded from wider opportunities to show their work and gain employment.
As part of their continued exploration of Europe, Dash Arts will delve into some of these issues at their next Dash Café, on 27th February. With the help of their guests, Swedish actress and filmmaker Bahar Pars, Nanna Blondell, the UK-based actor, writer, and translator Houda Echouafni Elsokari, and Tom Green of Counterpoints Arts. They will discuss European identity and what it means for artists and migrants born outside of Europe to create art here. We’ll screen several comic shorts that explore some of these issues, together with a panel discussion, at Rich Mix. Join us to see and discuss with some exceptional migrant artists who are living and producing their creative ideas in the UK.