Asylum Archive: The Old Convent centre in Ballyhaunis, 2008 (Vukasin Nedeljkovic )

Galway Arts Centre and Create present

A panel discussion as part of Asylum Archive

 

Exhibition

Exhibition: February 13 – March 20
Launch: February 13
Venue: Galway Arts Centre, 47 Dominick Street, Galway City

Panel discussion

Discussion Event: March 3
Time: 6pm
Venue: Galway Arts Centre, 47 Dominick Street, Galway City

Panel: Vukasin Nedeljkovic, Anthony Haughey, Anne Mulhall, Charlotte McIvor, Megs Morley

Chair: Katrina Goldstone

‘The archive has to be read from below, from a position of solidarity with those displaced, deformed, silenced or made invisible by the machineries of profit and progress’

– Allen Sekula

Create and Galway Arts Centre have programmed a panel discussion on the themes evoked by Asylum Archive, the exhibition running at the Galway Arts Centre from February 13 – March 20.

In its practice, Asylum Archive is rooted in fieldwork research through the process of taking photographs of the direct provision centres and of found discarded or abandoned artefacts. Also it incorporates video and audio recordings into the body of the work.

The work of Vukasin Nedeljkovic poses a number of questions on the role of art – and the artist - and society. It is also a work which demands reflection on broader issues, such as political power and the Archive. Asylum Archive pulls us up short, to consider difficult topics and to remind us, as per Michael Lynch, “the archive is never ‘raw’ or ‘primary,’” because it is always assembled so as to lead later investigators in a particular direction. The work of Asylum Archive also requires us to reflect on modes of incarceration, and the creation of art within oppressive systems or sites. In what ways does the involuntary embeddedness of the artist influence what is created. And does this change when the artist is no longer on site but still re visiting themes connected to direct provision?

Yet Nedeljkovic also asks us to consider Direct Provision Centres not only as sites of incarceration, social exclusion or extreme poverty but also as sites of collectivity and resistance. Direct provision Centres are where different nationalities and ethnic groups exist(ed) and persist(ed) through the confinement created by the State. Where people wait patiently for meals, sign in and out almost every day in order to get 19.10 euros per week and a medical card, watch friends being transferred and deported, and open Government letters with anxiety, fear and hope. Also in terms of continuity of themes in social history and the State’s treatment of those deemed ‘outsiders’, does the Direct Provision system represent a legacy or echo of older systems of confinement in Ireland - borstals, laundries, prisons, mother and baby homes, lunatic asylums?

About Asylum Archive

The exhibition, featuring video, photography and found objects, unpacks the structures of the Direct Provision system in Ireland. The absence of human subjects in the artworks encourages viewers to examine the traces, structures and architectural spaces of this system. The formal compositions of the photographic work and clean presentation of the found objects raise the question of what is being represented, or presented to the viewer. Traces of individual presence through marks within spaces, discarded objects and attempts at personalisation of spaces coexist with the deliberately anonymous spaces and the artist’s decision to represent the structure of direct provision through the absence of people.

The subject of direct provision in Ireland is contentious; with research and lobby groups presenting consistent evidence of dehumanisation of asylum seekers in Ireland. The confinement, segregation and categorisation of people seeking asylum in Ireland has led to serious inequalities and discriminations, in full view of society. Rather than Asylum Archive looking at asylum seekers as victims with a story that presents them as other to the citizens of Ireland, the exhibition instead presents the structure that people are siphoned into, a system that is supported and witnessed by the Irish government.

Vukasin Nedeljkovic received an award from the Arts Council Artist in the Community Scheme Research & Development Award in 2011.