Basia Sliwinska ‘Transnational Embodied Belonging Within ‘Edge Habitats”
Updated: Nov 22, 2019
Basia Sliwinska (Fig.1) – Born in Polland, she is an art historian and theorist. Her focus is on the feminist practise of contemporary women artists. She is a lecturer in Fashion visual culture at Middlesex University, London. In her teaching practise and research, she is concentrated on gender, women’s art and issues of the body and identity across differently conceptualised borders.She is especially interested on the topic of ‘how borders can be negotiated through in particular the female body as a site of learning.(People, 2016),(Middlesex university London, 2016)
In the text Sliwinska is contemplating the artificial borders created by social norms, politics and artificial borders. She is exploring how the female body is a part of the current events in migration and obtaining membership and citizenship. She looks at two examples that contrast the inclusion and exclusion of foreign bodies from different borders as perceived by global borders and laws.
The example of passive activism she gives with J. Rajkowska is an interesting take on interpreting politics and making a social statement on a public and national level. The author of that ‘open-ended’ performance is making a statement through her pregnant body in an attempt to invoke a feeling of unity and closeness between local and alien by showing the people that the foreign (Rosa) can become part of their place just by being birthed in the location of Berlin.
The second example given is of a more aggressive and direct form of expression where the author Nada Prlja shows the altogether more ugly and gruesome reality of migration in the context of globalisation. She is exploring how people are found in these states where they have rejected their own citizenship while not fully being accepted into their new environment completely. While there may be some kind of tolerance, a migrant will never be accepted with the same status as a local.
A big flaw of these concepts that I find in the thoughts and research material of Sliwinska is that she focuses, and to use a less positive term, limits her research just to the area of the Eurozone. The focus in the instances is based on history and personal relations perceived and created by a time of war and growth unique to this region. And while telling and interesting story of exploration, belonging and contemplating the meaning and interpretation of several terms connected to hospitality, borders and other spaces enclosed in a shroud of limitations, the text would feel more complete if it explored another point of view from another culture. Another culture that has grown with a different set of a crisis on its hand, and where the people have a different attitude towards immigration, hospitality, borders, and the significance of the female in developing these terms. Limiting to just the epos of one small part of the world will not yield the results necessary to make this, otherwise captivating piece of work, complete.
If she focuses more on the western cultures she might find a different frame of thought.
Taking her research into account and considering the fact the world becomes a more cosmopolitan as well as the rapid globalisation around the world, it makes me think about how design can improve people’s lives. Incorporating research into history and people can bring a new level of design. Thinking about denizens and how to make them feel more welcome and included can influence the design and improve the functionality of a given space, in an appropriate context.
Fig.3. personal archives
Why does the author keep coming back to feminism if the main idea of immigration and exploring habitats in whole is more connected to politics and the self according to her?
Do you think if she explores bigger borders, she would find other examples?
transcend – be or go beyond the range or limits of (a field of activity or conceptual sphere)
predominantly – mainly; for the most part.
People (2016) ADRI. Available at: http://adri.mdx.ac.uk.contentcurator.net/basia-sliwinska (Accessed: 24 October 2016).
Middlesex university London (2016) Available at: http://www.mdx.ac.uk/about-us/our-people/staff-directory/profile/sliwinska-basia (Accessed: 24 October 2016).