This winter VHDG presents an exhibition by artist Alina Lupu: Europe. The Odyssey. With images, video and audio, Alina will take us along in her reflections on the idea of freedom of movement, that come together in this exposition centered around the concept of ‘waiting’..
During her residency with us in 2022, Alina experienced a strong contrast between her own traveling around within the Netherlands and the crisis situation in Ter Apel. This led to her starting to observe the refugee crisis from various angles, which resulted in a journey undertaken by herself to Turkey, across land and sea. Leave Europe, and then go back again: a contemporary odyssey.
The Freedom/Restriction of Movement
Alina Lupu was doing a residency in the month of September, 2022 with us at VHDG. She wandered through Leeuwarden and tried to understand the dynamics within the city from a perspective of work and precarious working conditions, something experienced daily in the life of an artist. In this month she was also traveling extensively between Amsterdam – her home -, Leeuwarden – the residency -, and The Hague – her studies. In general she experienced complete freedom of movement in the Netherlands, and with that also the possibility of not one, but two homes.
Parallel during her stay a humanitarian crisis emerged in Ter Apel, also in the North of the country. The refugee center in Ter Apel became overcrowded, and thus people were forced to sleep outside, underneath the open sky. The government knew it had to act, but remained indecisive for quite some time. Alina started mapping out the media landscape, the flood of news articles around the refugee crisis of Ter Apel. She set a daily Google alert withon certain keywords, which resulted in her mailbox overflowing with messages about the crisis situation. Every day she experienced the feeling of powerlessness: watching from a distance how her host country dealt with the situation and how it portrayed it in the media.
When she got the chance to travel to Turkey later that year, she decided to make the journey across land and see – instead of traveling by plane – to better experience the power of her passport, as well as the slowness of traveling through ‘Fortress Europe’ (a term pointing out how the traffic and trade across the EU border is restricted; European protectionism and keeping out refugees) across multiple borders. Alina’s thoughts on her stay in Leeuwarden and the many traveling done by herself were shaped by the contradiction of the liberty of movement a European passport offers and the limitations tied to the status of refugee.
The Waiting Room
The artworks that sprung from her stay in Leeuwarden, her slow travels throughout Europe and her reflections, play around with the concept of waiting: waiting for departure; waiting during a long trip; waiting to reach a destination; waiting to cross a border; waiting to come up with an idea; waiting to make an exhibition; waiting for the first visitor.
From February 10 until March 12 Alina Lupu will exhibit works that came out of her own personal situation of freedom and stability and her experiences of how these things are limited in the life of another. The life of a refugee is put on hold, in uncertainty of the future, of a new destination. Uncertainty to be able to stay somewhere, to be allowed to build a new life there.
How do you relate to a crisis and a life in the waiting room if you’ve already reached the final destination? How does one relate to the uncertainty of the journey, the possibility of accidents, to traveling very slowly? How does someone experience travels when they seem endless? And what does it mean to truly arrive somewhere?
Come to the opening of the exhibition on friday February 10 in H47 from 19:00 until 22:00 and reflect together with artist Alina Lupu on these questions. After the opening the exhibition will be open until March 12, from Wednesday through Sunday and from 12:00 until 17:00.
Design: Michiel Teeuw