ZEMOS98 is a team of cultural workers.
We try to create critical thinking, we try to deconstruct the mass-media messages, we try to weave networks, relationships and
communities. We try to work in the intersections and margins. We try to work (g)locally, behind the borders. We try to take care of our networks and we try to reuse and remix all of our contents. We try to organize a Festival every year and we try to create a New Media Laboratory called 98LAB to learn about this things.
So, basically, we try things.
Emotions, ideas, dreams about Remapping Europe atelier in Istanbul.
«There is no border, you get to a control and you look over there and all you see is the country.» Unknown man at a bus stop
Being a Traveling Participant requires visiting countries hosting Remapping Europe Workshops to observe and draw connections between different projects developed by participants from Poland, England, Spain, and Turkey. From the 13 to 18 of March, David Sypniewski from Poland, Ahmend Sheikh from England, and Nagehan Uskan from Turkey, and I served as traveling participants in Istanbul.
Two months before, we were together in Warsaw, but at the time our role was unclear and, thus, only worked as external observers rather than in a group with other international participants. The function of a “traveling participant” was initially ambiguous, but after working together for a few days, we discovered how to redefine our roles to best fit our individual skill sets. Consequently, we found out David’s strengths lie in digital animation, Ahmed is musical, and Nagehan can do more theoretical work… And me? Well, I make the coffee.
On the first day of the conference we had some difficulty deciding where to begin. However, Paulina Tervo gave us methodologies that helped us overcome certain barriers and served as a structural guide to the project. In agreement with Benoît Detalle, we found it extremely hard to find information regarding Remapping Europe on the Internet, and decided to create an informational spot which will be presented during the 15th annual ZEMOS98 festival during the first week of April. We also created a webpage where videos, documents, music, games, and pictures could be uploaded to promote dialogue.
Our first step was to brainstorm, to develop a diagram for the project in order to organize concepts, ideas, and available tools. The nucleus would be migration and cultural convergence to focus the discussion on how our similarities and differences allow us to bridge divisions.
Bridges. In the hotel cafeteria there was a large photo of one of Istanbul’s bridges. Before going, I watched two or three movies about Turkey, which was enough to understand how the Bosphorous Bridge in Istanbul is a Turkish symbol for cross-culturalism. It’s a beautiful metaphor that not all cities can share. On the second day we watched a documentary called Ekumenopolis about urbanization, gentrification, and destructive role of capitalism in the lives of Istanbul’s residents. There we saw tracks of the dirt where the beautiful metaphors are built on.
It was easy to see how Turkey’s exacerbated capitalism could be found in any other part the world. Maybe this universality is how we should view our role as international participants as well. Because what unites every migratory process, as Felipe told me when I was having doubts about the project, are: precariousness and oppression.
During our last dinner, while I was talking with Fatih Bilgin, I learned my Istanbul football team has to be Besiktas. Later, I asked her about his opinion regarding Remapping Europe, and he told me he had issues settling in to the conference and feeling comfortable with the group. I sympathized with his situation, as I had similar doubts in other process, but assured him that if we even if meet just four or five people that’s worth the experience. Fatih, who has a colorful intelligence, was struggling with his English as he tried to explain to me why he considers working on shaky ground indispensable to these types of videos. He said you can’t participate in Remapping Europe while holding onto preconceived notions and refusing to step outside of your comfort zone. You have to get to know other realities and expand your worldview, which we didn’t have time to do. We agreed that in this particular case we must learn how to rethink the images associated with migration put forth by the media, reconsider topics in a new light, and, of course, have fun.