Reflections on performingborders | LIVE as part of Queer Contact 2019
Guests: Nima Séne and Tuna Erdem
Venue: YES, Manchester
Manchester has a historical pull for migrants. It has been, over the centuries, a city that has welcomed people from all backgrounds, from the Irish arriving in look for work during the Industrial Revolution, to the Jewish community fleeing prosecution in the Second World War in Central and Eastern Europe. Currently it is one of the most culturally diverse (that dreadful world) cities in the UK, also home to various groups of asylum seekers who have migrated in search of solace and security.
Alongside London and Brighton, Manchester has also always been a city that welcomed, nurtured and cherished its LGBTQ community. The famous Canal Street (or Gay Village) has been a traditional home for queers of all colours, even if currently some of its appeal has lacked behind the times. Nonetheless, it has always welcomed multi-national queers from all over the world and its appeal as a welcoming city has certainly attracted many migrants on the look out for safe spaces or less oppressive social compositions.
The context of Queer Contact was always one that attracted us precisely because of this history of this bright city, so when we were invited by Contact, we wanted to explore the queerinborders angle that performinborders has been exploring over the past year or so.
For this, and in collaboration with Contact’s programmer Pelin Başaran, we decided to invite the amazing artists Nima Séne and Tuna Erdem. Both coming from very different artistic, social and migrant backgrounds, they wanted to explore how their different perspectives of migration and belonging would come together within a format that allowed for the sharing of their experiences as much as the exploration of their work.
The outcome was a riveting experience, with the conversation between the two exploring notions of cultural diversity and how cultural influence might suggest a specific lens in the way we might perceive performance and identity.
Led by Tuna Erdem, as our guest host of the pairing, the conversation started from exploring Nima Sene’s work Beige B*tch, as a focused point into understanding what creative methods and approaches they have when making the piece. It was then followed by a discussion on wider elements of their practice, such as the exploration of otherness and racial oppressions in the UK and Berlin, and how these are perceived differently depending on the cultural lens you are used to wearing.
It was a knotty, but incredibly poignant discussion, one which thread on quite unexplored language in public discourse: that of the migrant cultural lens. How does someone from a completely different culture from you, reads your work? How does the migrant perspective affects/shapes our understanding of a piece of work that might be quite cultural specific? A point of note, which you will be able to witness when we release the film online in May, are the grounds we found for this kind of discussion to flourish even further.
Image credit: screenshot from Sagitta Media’s video documentation