Workshop series by Colonial Neighbours
December 2020–January 2021
In collaboration with Ottonella Mocellin & Nicola Pellegrini
WITH Trang Tran Thu, Van Bo Le-Menzel and other members of the Vietnamese diasporic community
The aim of the project is to reflect on the consequences of the Cold War through the recent history of Berlin and from the perspective of the diasporic Vietnamese community living in the city. The ghost of the Berlin Wall and the violent and ambivalent relation of the German state towards Vietnamese migrants, infiltrate so many aspects of this city. Amongst the many communities present in Berlin today, the Vietnamese community narrates the complexity of forty years when the city was divided. It tells of appreciation and hatred, invitation and rejection, fracture and continuity, difference and kinship, that traverses the two-sided story of this Cold War focal point. In the light of resurgent xenophobic violence against and within a post-migrant society, which reveals again the continuities of hatred, from the violent torching of the Rostock-Lichtenhagen living quarters in 1992 to Hanau 2020, we need to problematise the kinship and continuities of structures of discrimination more general. In doing so, we trouble the history of a specific relation between Germany and Vietnam, but want to constitute as a matter of concern the continued impossibility of and violent barriers to being a protected political being without discrimation in a post-migrant society.
With three workshops planned in Berlin, one in the Czech Republic, the project investigates a history of colonialism, focusing on the long term relation of extraction between the West and Vietnam, and also on the complex relationships of “solidarity” between communist countries, with the aim of pondering the legacy of these asymmetric entanglements. The series will facilitate exchanges between communities in different countries affected by those shared histories.
Throughout the month of December the first two workshop-sessions will be exploring the enduring effects of Cold War tectonics, with a particular focus on the “coloniality” of power relations between Germany and Vietnam. These events will be curated and organised by SAVVY Contemporary’s Colonial Neighbours and members of the diasporic Vietnamese community in Berlin, and will facilitate reflections on histories of mobility, rupture and displacement, materialising a collective investigation into what it means to live as a „Vietnamese“ in the diaspora/ in exile/ in a post-migrant context, and pondering issues of (be)longing, with its regimes of mobility and politics of affects.
The collaboration with the artists duo Mocellin & Pellegrin will also intend to problematise practices of transnational adoption and adoption across class boundaries, addressing the complexity of the experience, and the positive and often simultaneously negative feelings associated with it. It will do so by exploring the meaning of biological kinship and of parenthood, and challenging modern narratives and models of family, troubling some of its gendered, classicised, and racialized ideas.
This workshop series takes place in the framework of The wall between us fills my heart with intolerable grief – a project in 2020–2021 by SAVVY Contemporary with Ottonella Mocellin and Nicola Pellegrini with workshops and events in Berlin, New York, Prague, Rome, and Bergamo
FUNDING The project is funded by the Italian Council, promoted by the DGCC (Direzione Generale creatività contemporanea) part of the MiBACT (Italian Ministry of Culture and Tourism).
IMAGE Ottonella Mocellin, For Livia, hand embroidered nightgown, 2017