Borderline Offensive - Laughing in the Face of Fear

Although Europe is confronted with the challenge of redefining itself, in debates about migration in the political and media discourse, the issues of economy and culture (from the sociological point of view) are dominant. What can then be the role of humanity and art in this process of redefinition? We must create a counter-narrative – solidarity and opposition to those who create conditions from which fear and anxiety about the “other” arise. We should even pose unpleasant questions about ourselves, the existing Europe and the Europeans, but also about the second actor of the crisis – the migrant, a non-European outsider, and explore the answers together.

Our approach is to look at humor as an artistic, cultural and social force. The challenge lies in cultural differences in the understanding of humor in the European and Arab world, in the choice of a specific genre for the peaceful resolution of contemporary problems that our societies face today, the challenge of taboo and the fight against stereotyping on both sides. Humor reduces stress by helping us look at the world from a different perspective. Humor moves the ways we think and gives the quality of perception that allows us to experience joy even when we are facing difficult times. We all feel somewhat vulnerable, so it is very important that culture allows people to talk about their insecurities and vulnerability, not allowing a party to become either a censor or a preacher.

If the struggle for Europe and its redefinition in relation to the global crisis of our time is so serious, traumatic, terrible, how could we think about laughter at all? We say the opposite. Humorously, we will develop European art, be critical in order to achieve a deeper truth, we will share wisdom and create common meanings, we will resort to extremist narratives, we will interact with intercultural dialogue, we will share friendly remarks, and we will be more creative, ridiculous and dealt with problems, laughing.

Even if only two men smile at the same joke, it’s a sure sign that they have established contact with one another on a deep level. It is, in any case, the most difficult and most important achievement of humanity. The fact that the same joke titillated both of them shows that they share a common humanity.

About the project

An artistic project of 4 years (2017-2020) is dedicated to creative research and social development based on art, which engages artists to explore issues of migration and social cohesion of communities in contemporary Europe, through the medium of black humor as aesthetic / poetic expression and laughter as a mechanism for intercultural socialization and the creation of a collective identity.

An interdisciplinary project is being implemented in 7 European cities: Gothenburg (Sweden), Belgrade (Serbia), Leeuwarden (The Netherlands), Gabrovo / Plovdiv (Bulgaria), Kosice (Slovakia), Zagreb (Croatia) and Thessaloniki (Greece) Turkey). From the region of the Middle East, Beirut (Lebanon), Ramallah (Palestine), as well as Syria and Jordan through the Foundation Mitost from Berlin (program Tandem Shaml). European support partners are the Lester Comedy Festival (UK) and the City of Comedy Network (Sweden, Denmark, and Norway).

Twenty artists will start a dialogue between two target groups: European residents and newly-arrived non-European migrants, opening the critical analysis of European and Arab cultural stereotypes, political correctness, censorship and freedom of expression, humor as a means of reducing tensions caused by historical and emotional trauma, as well as the concept of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea as a contact zone between European and Arab realities and ideological narratives.

TILLT // Gothenburg, Sweden // – Leader of the project
CZKD // Belgrade, Serbia //
Keunstwurk // Leuwaarden 2018, Netherlands // /
House of Humour and Satire // Gabrovo //
CIKE + Kair // Kosice, Slovakia //
Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) // Zagreb, Croatia // 
Symbiosis // Thessaloniki, Greece //
Zoukak Theatre Company // Beirut, Lebanon //
Anadolu Kültür // Istanbul, Turkey //
Ramallah Municipality // Palestine //
Ettijahat Independent Culture // Syria //
MitOst Tandem // Germany //