On March 8, 2016 I felt uncomfortable in posting something celebratory on the occasion of women’s international day. Instead I shared this image from Mato Ioannidou’s art series Genealogy, as ‘a reminder of a day that does not seem to be so happy for many women’. It was the beginning of a long process of ‘revisiting the nomadic subject’.
Dorothea Lange’s exhibition ‘Politics of seeing’ at the Barbican, which I visited in June 2018, was insightful in opening visual imageries in the complex histories of forced displacement. I was particularly drawn to the caption of a photograph taken in Sacramento Shanty town on May 21, 1935:
‘How can we go when we ain’t no place to go to?’
Lange, Notes from the Field’ (The DL Collection, Oakland Museum of California, A22.214.171.124)
The question of ‘where you can go if you have nowhere to go to’, was very much in my mind when I visited the Wanderlust exhibition at the Old National Gallery in Berlin in the end of August 2018, just 2 days before my Leverhulme project officially started. I laughed bitterly at Ludwig Richter’s depiction of the serene ‘Crossing of the Elbe‘, painted in around 1840 after his 1834 travel to Bohemia… Romantic, pensive and liberating, as they have been expressed in art, literature and philosophy, walking, travelling, sailing and crossing are social practices entangled within historical and political conditions that make them possible for some and impossible for others.