Perspectives and Duties
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Round table with Marita Muukkonen / Ivor Stodolsky Greece/Finland, Ulaş Sunata, Turkey, Thomas Büsch – Germany/Turkey, Tanja Knaus, Germany, at the Italian Cultural Institute within the Mahalla Festival in the frame of parallel events of the 15th Istanbul Biennial, September 21th 2017
Marita Muukkonen and Ivor Stodolsky are presenting ARTISTS at RISK (AR). AR is a new institution at the intersection of human rights and the arts. AR is dedicated to mapping the field of persecuted visual art practitioners, facilitating their safe passage from their countries of origin, hosting them at “AR-Safe Haven Residencies” and curating related projects.
Artists, writers, curators, critics and scholars are targets of politically motivated threats and persecution in great parts of the world. Perpetuum Mobile (PM) initiated Artists at Risk (AR) to provide a platform and network to support these art practitioners in a time of need. This encompasses facilitating a safe exit from countries of origin; assistance in the procurement of travel documents; providing legal assistance; and matching ARs with so-called AR-Safe Havens and residencies in the AR network. AR liaises with several cities and networks which provide “artists at risk” a safe place to live and work for a period of time. Furthermore, PM’s curatorial interests often overlaps with the artistic practices of artists in residence.
Artists at Risk (AR) is designed as an institution of worldwide scope. Visual artists will be AR’s primary focus, although other creative intellectuals—such as theatre and film practitioners – or others that need assistance beyond what can be provided by organisations such as PEN, SafeMUSE or Freemuse, may find placement at AR. Indeed, the musician Ramy Essam, “the singer of Tahrir Square”, was our first AR-Resident. As part of a collective effort with its many partners and networks, including PEN-America (the Artists at Risk Coalition), ICORN (The International Cities of Refuge Network) and new funding opportunities, AR is taking the first steps towards establishing a type of PEN for visual artists at risk.
Perpetuum Mobile (PM) has organised residencies for many years, and has been hosting “artists at risk” under various titles since around 2013. We initiated and curated the On the Move programme, run in partnership with HIAP (Helsinki International Artist Programme), and later also established a network called Nordic Fresh Air, which includes Nordic and Baltic art actors. Funded by the Nordic Cultural Point and the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture (2014-2016), this continued our work with art practitioners at risk. A fully–funded “Safe Haven-Helsinki” has been up and running since 2016 with the support of the City of Helsinki Cultural Office.
The European Parliament honoured Perpetuum Mobile with the CIVI EUROPAEO PRAEMIUM (the European Citizen’s Prize) for AR, and Safe Haven Helsinki won the Annual Art Act Award in 2016.
The Wandering Tower is the title of a surrealist short story by Sergej Prokofiev from the times of vivid migration movements on the edge of the world wars.
The Festival was quoting the title as a metaphorical frame for Mahalla 2020/2021. The tower of Babel is connected as a motive to the search for the origin of language and the access to the divine.