July 25, 2024

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Bed, Bath and Bread – De Groene Amsterdammer

Bed, Bath and Bread – De Groene Amsterdammer

Edgelanders: Amsterdam on trial. Part Three: Witnesses By Ihsan Fardjadnia and Raoul Balay

© Catalina Reyes Navarro

The witnesses of the title in the video installation by artists Ihsan Fardjadnia and Raul Balay are called undocumented people. The testimony presented concerns the unfair and malicious treatment of these people by the Dutch asylum system. There are a total of six films in a symmetrical arrangement in the room. To watch the individual films, visitors must first climb scaffold-like scaffolding. The design is temporary: there are white canvases with writing on them in large black letters witnesses A sentence is divided into two parts by degrees, I will never feel at home.

This installation is the third “chapter” of the series Edgelanders: Amsterdam on trial. Fardjadniya and Balai use their socially engaged artistic practices and ingenuity in each new part of this project to gather evidence to file a lawsuit against the city of Amsterdam. This issue focuses on the so-called bed, bath and bread arrangement, which provides for the right to shelter, but where opening Added condition: routing – which actually means cooperating with your migration. It is not unconditional, and is also inconsistent with international human rights treaties. There are letters available at the entrance for visitors to sign, addressed to the Municipality of Amsterdam.

The same setting can be seen in each of the six films: people sit next to and across from each other at a blue table in a gray concrete room. A great show is like an interrogation, but the place is the same as where the visitor is. These are not interrogations in an institutional legal context, however Conversations. In any case, these people are given peace and space to tell their story. Questioners are respectful, engaged and clearly committed. One of them is human rights lawyer Pim Fisher. Verdjadnia also sits in such a chair, does not leave himself out of the picture, and asks his table companion: What if I were the mayor of Amsterdam?

The conversations are interspersed with shots of Amsterdam, overhead views of cars and offices, and of passing cyclists. Daily life of citizens with a roof over their heads. It suggests simultaneity, but it makes it clear that time has become something else for the heroes. Their time to live has been taken away from them, and instead they wait, and survive. There is dismay at the endless series of humiliations and the willful absurdity of bureaucracy. A man says he has been undocumented in the Netherlands for 22 years. The boy notes that even trash has a place in the trash can. This analogy is clear, because the image of the Netherlands that appears here is disappointing.

We have lost our poetic side, and our sense of humour, as was said in one of the conversations. Very high and unnecessary price. However, there is humor and poetry, and space is made for that in this installation – but not as a salve for the viewer.

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