Borderline Offensive – Art as the micro level to critically question the macro level of EU integration policy and practice

Author: Tea Vidović * Centre for Peace Studies Zagreb * Croatia
15.09.2021. | 14:28

Borderline Offensive is a transnational community gathering for creators, academics, cultural producers and citizens wanting to explore how art and humour can contribute to better lives in society in Europe and beyond. As such platform, Borderline Offensive has organised, staged and produced different forms of tools aiming to provide the answers to the key questions:
· How do humour and art promote dialogue and reflection about migration, fear, pain, identity and social crisis?
· How do arts and culture influence integration positively, and how does integration work diversify audiences and artistic discourse?
· How do populism, xenophobia, and global cultural conflict impact arts and culture, freedom of expression and mobility of creators?

The research book that you are holding in your hands is one of the tools created that will help you in finding the answers. The research book offers the multidisciplinary view towards the projects as it analyses the processes of the artistic creations and art residencies organised during the project. It gathered the artists, citizens, cultural producers and academics in one place – where each individual was drowned in the process of dialogue, creation and observation. The ones that were observing (academics) gave us an insight into the process explaining the starting aim and the result achieved. Reading their analysis you will be able to go back to the time when the art was made or was trying to be made – and will get a sense of the complexity of the process and transformation that occurs when creation is in process. The findings, the conclusion, the take-home messages offered in the reports are the starting point for our future discussions, advocacy and policy making within the context of integration and intercultural dialogue.

When reading the reports you will be able to observe the concept of integration on a small scale – a micro level: where you have the artists as the “practitioners” trying to achieve connections among people and discuss humour. The outcome of their work shows the outcome of their micro integration policy created at that certain time and space with the project. If we step out of the micro level and observe it on the macro level – the conclusions are similar. You have the policy makers (the project idea), the practitioners (artists that implement the project idea), the people included/the society (participants of the project workshop) and the policy outcome (the project idea outcome). Borderline Offensive used the art as a social bridge to create integration practice and in doing so – it pointed the most relevant questions of the EU’s integration policy.

Small groups that existed in the beginning of integration path within a society can merge into a big group if there are concrete activities/policy plans/practices put in place – to foster social integration. These activities/policy plans/practices need to be a mix of formal and informal to achieve familiarity. Familiarity is important – among ourselves and among the context where we perform. To build the familiarity, it is necessary to get sufficient support of the environment. It is a process of the entire society and not only the new members of the society. In that process people can be challenged to step out of their comfort zone – and that challenge can bring results. But it must include the entire society: not only one part of it. Each new member brings something new to the context and familiarity changes – so in order to understand it: each member needs to participate. The context/society/policy must not be restricted but flexible to the social changes and temporality so that is can easily be adapted to the needs that occur.

One must be aware of it’s failure. That is the beauty of the social awareness. An artist, a policy maker, a new member of society, an old member of society – everyone can fail. The necessity is to have the awareness of it and to step into the process knowing that you will fail, and that every failure you make will bring better to the society. The awareness of the failure is the flexibility and fluidity we need to live in. The question is how quick can we adapt and react to the failure that we recognise?

Our societies and our identities are fluid. This is why we need humour. Humour and laughing can bring people together and can divide people. Humour is a connecter and a divider. Humour is our chance to recognise our failure. Embrace it as an intimate whisper of empathy. Humour has the strength to not only dehumanise but also upgrade people and question dominant positions of power.

You can find the BObook here


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