Photo by Julio Albarrán (cc)
It’s the second day of the encounter. The faces are much more familiar, the ’’rules of the joke’’ are much more known. Our topic is The Domestic is Political .
The Domestic is Political issue has been focussed on from Polish Partner of Remapping Europe Project, Association of Creative Iniatives ’’e’’. All the chapters of the project book take referance a media incident, and they revealed the chat of two futboll speaker about their housekeepers, reflecting their sexist and discriminatory mentality.
The idea that ’’the individual is political’’ is pretty common in recent years and it’s been reflected also in different areas of art. Cinema, and especially documentary cinema, are the one of the best examples of this. Biographical stories are transforming to universal ones from the point of view of the filmmakers that are taking their own life stories as starting point. The first action of most documentary filmmakers is to begin to film their own families sometimes this means also trying to solve their own problems and then connect them with social ones.
In the newspaper created as a part of our ’joke’ there was a fake article about the story of Manuela:
’’The Strange Case of Manuela, The Colombian care-keeper
The signs were clear when Pablo (5), the son of Doris and Xose started to call his carekeeper ’mom’. The father knew the process was irreversable. Few days later Pablo asked his parents to give him in adoption to Manuela. His parents tried to convince him not to do that: ’’She has no papers, no money, she sometimes doesn’t even talk. Pablo was unflexible about that, he wants his adoption and their efforts couldn’t do anything about it. The adoption could not finally produced. Manuela, the Colombian carekeeper refused to have this child. She told to this newspaper: I don’t really fucking care about this child.’’
The source code speaker Ayşe Akalın, a sociologist based in Istanbul, starts her talk with a video of her grandmother. (This time showing also how domestic is also ’academical’.) When her grandmother has dementia, at the end of 90’s, her mother decided to take a carer. In this really short video filmed by Ayse Akalın, the grandmother is singing a song that she remembers from her childhood. A very nationalistic song, some kind of march, saying to attack the enemies and save the flag. These kind of nationalistic school songs, like many other xenophobic ones that survived also in my school days, are memorized in the deepest part of the old lady. She remembers them very well, even sometimes she can not remember who is her grandchild. Then she has her Moldovian carer called Anja, who has lived with her for 11 years. She calls her ’my daugther’. But ’the daughter’ seems to be a little bit bored. When she is talking about going to her homeland, the grandmother asks her not to leave. ’’Don’t leave me. You’re my daughther. They won’t appreciate you as me.’’ Old, learned, memorized memories versus the real fact. She sees this ’foreigner’ as her daughter, and is trying to convince her that she would be more appreciated in this ’foreign’ home instead of her own, so she must prefer this one.
Migrant carers, distant from their homeland, families and their sentimantal feeling and belonging places, are working in some kind of exile. They are doing their job but they also have to love and smile at the people they are working for. Unlike the business world, this is one the most important parts of their job. They should be the ’mom’ or the ’daughter’. Some kind of ’emotional colonialism’ as we named it after discussions in our group. Unlike the business world rules, they don’t have social security, they’re cheap labour, they’re cheap female labour. The questions are about migrant identity and all issues around migration, but also about class, sex and social rights. Much more complex than one can imagine.
That’s why the main article of the journal is about a strike: ’’We don’t love you anymore!’’ If these ladies don’t obtain what they want they will stop loving, and they will only work. The graphics of the journal shows in a funny way how the decrease of love will cause the economy of Europe to be in crisis.
Borders of homes are open and transparent for migrants, as in the case of Manuela and Anja. How could the world be if the borders between countries disappear too? Aside from these kind of concrete borders, what about the other borders that are the origin of racisim, xenophobia. But also what about borders between classes, between sexes etc?
There is a very recent, short amateur video in which a Kurdish child is throwing a stone between the Syrian and Turkish border, but also the border that separates two Kurds of these countries. When they were trying to build the wall between the two countries there were big demonstations from the two countries against it. In one of these, after a big police attack with tear gas against the people, we saw a child of 9-10 years old running alone to the police, when everybody is running to the opposite way. He is running to the police, taking a stone, and throwing it. At the police, at the police State, at the borders.
I’ve been a part of the Remapping Europe project as a travelling participant for two years. I have heard different stories of migrants from different countires. I learned so many things from different experiences and saw so many different media works, read different articles about wrong representation of migrants and about how these stories should be told from their point of view, and how self-representation is vitally important. But in the very beginning of the project I had a question in my mind, and I still have it. Maybe it will continue to exist: ’’Why are there borders?’’. Why are the people, instead of trying to ’empathise’, ’sympathise’ and ’tollerate’ the migrants, are not going and throwing stones at the borders with the rage of a child?
The Domestic is Political, streaming of the Audiovisual Source Code by Ayşe Akalın