“When I was a child my mother used to tell me, that I am a citizen of the world. Of course I believed her, she was my mother. But the older I got, the more I understood that this is only my mother’s dream. Borders exist – for somebody more, for the luckiest less. Their lines and rules sometimes change, but they do exist.”
IntimeFremde is dedicated to a reflection over the idea of border, identity, the concept of nation, country of origin, to the encounter/collision of different anatomies such as the physical ones, the cultural and emotional ones. Europe got us used to travel low cost and feel at home in all the countries of the Union. Nevertheless the old continent is scared and closes his own borders: the Mediterranean sea seems to be made of barbed wire. And yet, what does it mean to be European today? Borders exist, hidden everywhere: while we do our shopping, when we look at each other, when we almost touch or avoid our neighbor; they are hidden in my miniskirt, in the covered face of your fellow citizen, in the smells we find in the stairwell while coming back in our “nest”. And what is behind the door, behind the line is, since ever, frightful. If it is true that we’re all biologically similar, it is also true we are all culturally diverse, and with different rights.
What is hidden behind the shapes of the identity? What doesnationality mean? What does citizenship mean? How is that related to our public and private life? How is that related to human rights and freedom of movement? Did you know about the existence of a “Passport Power Rank” (a record that lists each passport based on its “Visa Free” score)?
How much are clothes and habits, attitudes, behaviours defining identities, anatomies, shapes, borders and limits? How are strangers looking at each other?If is true that we are all biologically similar, it is also true that we are all culturally diverse.
What are we made of? What do we know about our physical anatomy, the border of a body that in the crowd appears covered, veiled, shaded?
Does a cultural anatomy exist at all? Or else, is it possible to speak of an emotional one? Are we finally not just made of what we eat, what we experience, what we decide, what we love, what wefight for? Which weight do our fears, fragilities and weaknesses have for our identities? Which weight do our rights and freedom of movement have in the construction process of the identity? Are we not the result of the No and the Yes that we say during our lives? Aren’t we the effect of the words that we’ve heard, of those that we’ve read, of the prohibitions and advices held by the people we love?
We believe that theatre is always played out of a deep necessity.
In the past years the migration phenomenon connected to the figure of the “asylum seeker” has gained a huge dimension. Europe’s borders are now a dangerous place and the Mediterranean Sea resembles more and more a mass grave. At the same time the borders within the European Union started to fade. The economic crisis encouraged thousands of your south Europeans to move towards the north of the continent. The result is that it is often easier and cheaper to fly from country to country than to travel within one country by road or train.
Welcome Project creates a theatrical space for these reflections, operates a research about the concepts of Nation, Origin, Border and Coexistence of different Cultures.
During the first residency in Italy, hosted by our producer Teatro del Lemming, we had the chance to meet the asylum seekers living at the CanalbiancoHostel in Bosaro (Italy). A strange coincidence brought us there on the same day in which MatteoSalvini, an Italian xenophobe politician driving his own campaign against migration, was visiting the structure. Those men living there and waiting for the refugee status said something disarming to us: “You, you can go on holidays, travel, move as you like. We, we cannot”. Some of them crossed the desert by feet: “Do you know what does it mean to walkthrough the desert?”.
Not all passports have the same value. Not all citizenships have the same value. Not all citizens have the same rights. Not all people have the same dignity. Not today. Not yet.
We are strangers in a big multi-ethnic city. But then I ask myself what is a stranger that lives among other strangers? What does it mean to be a foreigner? Does it not mean having breathed another air, spoken and heard a different language, greeted friends in a different wise? Those are little cultural cracks. I walk through Neukölln, I feel my own identity, I am different, it’s clear: I come from somewhere else. I feel all those cracks and sometimes they are strong. I am a foreigner among foreigners, a stranger among strangers. But at the same time I have the strong feeling that since we walk and live side by side, we belong to each other. It entails the existence of a “we”, an “us”. We are responsible for each other.
Then there is “us”, Welcome Project, and our lives as women, migrants or daughters of immigrants.
Since the beginning I felt that working on this topic meant to involve the “identity”. Is an intimacy possible among foreigners? I believed that, in order to overstep stereotypes, we needed to find a lowest common denominator. To look inside the numbers, the kilometers of walls, the borders and the boxes, we needed to find a point of contact. I thought we had to start from life; we had to use it as a binocular which could give thickness to concepts. “Do you remember your first kiss?”, “Who are your parents?”, “Do you remember your dreams?”. I have the belief that political and social layers are never completely separated from the human and personal path that each of us walks.
I am pretty sure that this process of work has put at stake our lives, memories, the dreams which were appearing after an intense day of work, our bodies (dressed as well as naked), our languages which keep mixing each other inside and outside the work.
I believe theatre offered us beautiful moments of intimacy among stranger.