A Weird Geography

An introduction to issue #1

The first thematic issue of Mezosfera contributes to the on-going societal debates around migration and migration politics in Europe, introducing and examining related work by artists, activists, and thinkers from diverse cultural and geographical contexts. It addresses overarching key issues, from the crisis of citizenship and the challenges of a post-identity politics to the unequal access to rights and privileges that pervades all phases of the migration experience from the freedom of movement to the right to work.


Appealing to the State to Become Stateless

An interview with visual artist Núria Güell about the right to self-determination, the failure of the nation-state and how art can be used to challenge the possible

Nationality is the quality that infuses to a person the fact of belonging to a national community that is organized as a state. The project emerges from my dis-identification with the structure of the nation-state, as well as from my refusal of the construction of the self in relation to national identity, since I consider it fictional and imposed. (Núria Güell on her work “Stateless by Choice. On the Prison of the Possible”)


Russia, The Land of Opportunity

A migrant labor board game by Andrei Yakimov and Olga Zhitlina

“Russia, The Land of Opportunity” board game is a means of talking about the possible ways that the destinies of those millions of immigrants play out who come annually to the Russian Federation from the former Soviet Central Asian republics to earn money (…). The characters, situations, and monetary amounts (fines, payments, bribes, etc.) are not fictional. Any resemblance to actual events is not coincidental. Each year, thousands of people are victimized by the system outlined here. (The artist Olga Zhitlina on her collaboration with human rights advocate Andrei Yakimov)


Refugees’ Library

An on-going project initiated by Marina Naprushkina

The “Refugees’ Library” is an archive of court sketches on the topics of asylum and migration. The artist Marina Naprushkina documents the trials of refugees through illustrations and dialogues between the different actors of the trial: the plaintiff (the refugee), the lawyer, and the judge. The library’s intention is two-fold: on the one hand, it aims to spark debate about German and European asylum and migration policy by making available to a larger public the cases of refugees coming from diverse geographical, political, and social contexts. On the other hand, the project aims to provide the refugees with the information resources in order to prepare for their own cases.


I Ain’t Gettin’ on No Plane! How to Stop a Deportation

A film by the Protest Productions Collective

Vienna International Airport: a hub for people yearning to see distant places and globalized business relationships. But many people get onto a plane, because they are forced to—they are being deported. “I Ain't getting on No Plane! How to Stop a Deportation” shows ‘safety instructions’ for those who would like to prevent a deportation and take action showing solidarity: ‘Don't fasten your seatbelt,’ ‘Stand up and refuse to sit down,’ ‘Talk to the captain’ are some of the recommendations. (Protest Productions Collective)


Reconstruction of a Forced Deportation by Swiss Authorities

A documentary by augenauf (open your eyes)

The scenes shown in the film are a reconstruction of a forced “Level 4” deportation carried out by the Swiss authorities. By conducting numerous interviews with people who have been personally involved in the deportation procedure, and by analyzing the training material used by the Swiss police, it was possible to obtain a clear picture of the procedure. By publicizing this film, augenauf highlights the procedures that Switzerland is implementing behind closed doors.


“I Have A Scream”*

The New Year of Migration and Asylum Politics in Hungary. Talk and workshop organized by tranzit.hu

What will 2016 bring: fences or open borders? On January 8, 2016, tranzit.hu organized a talk and a workshop with the title “I Have A Scream,” as part of the two-day finissage of Babi Badalov’s exhibition “Poetical Activism.” Curator and moderator Katalin Erdődi invited human rights experts, activists, and humanitarian NGOs to participate in a discussion about what the new year will bring in Hungarian migration and asylum politics. This exchange not only served as a starting point for the thematic issue “A Weird Geography,” but also marked a period in which the borders were still partially open (although only for Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghani citizens) and measures to be taken by European policy-makers were still open to debate.


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