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Europe as a Waiting Room

Turkey’s EU membership added a new dimension to many discussions of political concepts in this country, and as it was conceptualizing its own process of change it caused Europe to change. I think it led to a series of crises that revealed Europe’s secret paradigms. As it discussed the political boundaries of its own image with those it included in and excluded from the European parliament, it was forced to come face to face the Europe it had described as a fictional/mythical place of law.

While I was thinking that as a result of these discussions, “Europe and us” had ceased to be opposing poles and had intertwined, I happened to visit France. During the three months I spent in a guest artist program in Vitry-sur-Seine, which Paris distances from itself and where there was living proof of the hypocritical immigration policies and the Citées, I realized that I was in the right place for the “Waiting Room” project, which seemed obvious to me politically but whose mystery I had been unable to solve. When I positioned myself outide the political map but within the cultural map, Europe was transformed into a stage somewhere between utopia and a waiting room. If we can leave the cliches to one side, I wanted to research this culture that was seeping through my skin through the body of the Immigrant in which I had settled temporarily, and I realized that our common problem was the struggle to recapture our “Naked Life”. To understand where and when our own naked lives began and which vague powers had unknowingly contaminated them, I began first with my own life and progressed toward the question of whether I could form a poetic field of existence to counter the paradoxes of the dominant and remain on a threshold amidst all of those tensions…

The imaginative “New Citizen” that I problematized concerning the immigrants at Le MAC VAL gradually became more place-dependant and focused on the EU parliament building in Strasbourg. This building is also a display of Europe’s mental and cultural unity and an architectural monument to what has come to be appreciated as a utopian place. As the competition jury panel stated, it fit the criteria perfectly. I found the architectural features of the EU parliament building and the statements made about it quite interesting. In an architectural analysis reflecting the Tower of Babel as a European idea, this building reflects the formal synthesis of European mythos, symbols and allegories. As an idea space, with a multilingual, timeless and perfect order inspired by the Tower of Babel, it seems to wish to become eternal by leaving history and the quotidian outside the door. As such, the building became for me a place for a work to be composed in order for “being to be able to speak”. My aim was not just to reflect my own emotions, which oscillated between envy and gratitude. I also wanted to problematize it within the space and time dimension in which Europe was discussing its own values in relation to immigration policies. The lives that remained suspended in the long line in front of the EU’s door came together in “Camp”. 

“The Camp is a place where it is impossible to separate the real from the law, rules from practice and exception from law; but in spite of this it is a place that constantly separates the two.”

“By casting the basic categories of the nation state into doubt, the immigrant turns it upside down.”

“The immigrant makes possible a new category as the only real naked life. This way has neither the structure of human rights nor the order of the State.”

“The political system no longer suggests the lifestyles or legal rules we are accustomed to hearing about, and even worse, it relies on an indefinable and obfuscatory sermon that can absorb all the lifestyles and rules that exceed the law; ‘A settlement that unsettles’”

Giorgio Agamben, Source?

Ýnci Eviner, June 2010

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