从欧洲移民危机看“黑色地中海”

题图:Deni Ponty 丹尼·庞蒂,Art Guard,2000。图片源自:艺术家和纽约大学联合出版,199期,2018年11/12月,题目《我们的海》。
《非殖民文化宣言》
作者:
伊斯梅尔艾纳什 Ismail Einashe是英国伦敦作家。

在6月份意大利巴勒莫的一个闷热的下午,我从城市历史中心步行45分钟来到一个工人阶级社区。我的目的地是Zisa Zona Arti Contemporanee,这是一座大型工业建筑,类似于由当地文化部运营的飞机库。

这个空间目前正在举办一个名为“再意义”的非凡的旅行多媒体展览,这是“2018年宣言”的附带活动。(一直持续到11月4日)由尼日利亚剧作家、纽约大学提施分校副教授阿瓦姆·阿姆克帕策展,灵感来自佛罗伦萨别墅“黑魔”雕像。尽管该展览援引了非洲主体在欧洲艺术、文化和历史上的经典和流行的代表,但它也是对流散和“黑色地中海”的有力沉思,这一术语自意大利学者A首次提出以来,引起了国际上的兴趣。巴勒莫大学英语助理教授莱珊德拉. Di Maio连同44位国际艺术家(包括Omar Victor Diop、Zanele Muholi、Mary Sibande、Mickalene Thomas和Deborah Willis)的150件艺术品,该展览还包括了来自尼日利亚诺贝尔获奖作家非洲艺术收藏的作品。
跨越时间,空间和流派,这个强大的展览包括非洲艺术在欧洲艺术的描绘和重新想象二十一世纪的黑人身份。黑色人物作为士兵、朝臣和仆人,如圣人、先知和神话人物。但他们也被用来代表和应对非洲从欧洲转移到地中海的危机,今年仅吞下超过1500人。这次展览试图修正欧洲黑人身体表现的一个深层问题:我们的声音被种族化、压制和沉默的历史。很明显,奴隶制和殖民主义不仅是历史的脚注,而且是跨越波涛汹涌的大海的数千名非洲人的当代生活现实,罗马人称之为Mare Nostrum(我们的海)。然而,这里的“我们”不包括黑体。在欧盟成员国为搜救任务的合法性争论不休之际,这片海域已经军事化:今年夏天,意大利极右翼副总理马特奥·萨尔维尼否认非政府组织的救援船只在意大利港口停靠的权利。欧盟已经建立了庞大的边境基础设施来阻止移民,并且有理由让他们在地中海蔚蓝的水域中死去,以此作为对人口走私者的威慑,但是这项政策已经失败。“辞职”是一个及时剔除隐藏、遗忘或被否认的历史对这场持续危机的影响。
今天欧洲边界的现实根植于奴隶制、殖民主义、大规模抽取和全球资本主义,这些历史政治势力数世纪以来以牺牲全球南方国家为代价,为西方注入了权力和财富。在当前关于地中海及其以外地区移民问题的公开讨论中,很少有人承认这一事实。从1880年代到1940年代,意大利是索马里、利比亚和厄立特里亚的殖民地,1936年,埃塞俄比亚被墨索里尼的法西斯国家占领。但是,在意大利,媒体对移民的报道往往重复说,“这些人”来自无名地,没有明显的原因。也不是说,欧盟边界系统对非洲移民造成的暴力事件被广泛讨论。非殖民化意味着建立一种非殖民的眼光,以便理解移民的历史背景,然而,在大多数新闻报道中,这并没有发生。
对地中海危机的回应也意味着理解欧洲中心法律定义的架构。我们需要对1951年《难民公约》进行非殖民化,该公约是145个缔约国批准并由联合国通过的重要法律文件。它太有限了,不能充分应对不仅由战争而且由气候变化和经济危机造成的当代移民规模。比如说,如果一个冈比亚或塞内加尔移民为了寻求更好的生活而去欧洲旅行,他们并不像叙利亚人那样值得同情。其结果是一个移民受难的排行榜,以及好移民与坏移民之间的简单二进制重复。这是理解促使人们离开家园的原因的复杂性的过时方法。
非法越境、逃避边防、攀登金属围栏和地中海生存不仅是一种生存行为,而且是一种想象行为。要结束这种人类苦难的浪潮,不仅需要明智、人道和统一的政府政策,而且需要愿意了解殖民主义和暴力的深层历史,这些历史使非白人身体成为缺乏机构的受害者。目前的局势使非洲人看不见,对许多欧洲人来说,这只是加强了非洲自身,使之成为其噩梦和美丽的漫画。

FRIZE特稿 ARThing编译

Reading the ‘Black Mediterranean’ through Europe’s Migrant Crisis

On a sticky June afternoon in Palermo, Italy, I walked 45 minutes from the historic centre of the city to a working-class neighbourhood. My destination was Zisa Zona Arti Contemporanee, a large industrial building, resembling an aircraft hangar, which is operated by the local Department of Culture.

The space is currently hosting an extraordinary travelling multimedia exhibition titled ‘ReSignifications’ – a collateral event of Manifesta 2018, the roving European biennial of contemporary art. (It runs until 4 November.) Curated by the Nigerian playwright and associate professor at NYU Tisch, Awam Amkpa, it was inspired by ‘Blackamoor’ statues in the Florentine Villa la Pietra collection. Although the show invokes classical and popular representations of African bodies in European art, culture and history, it is also a powerful meditation on the diasporic and ‘black Mediterranean’ – a term which has sparked international interest since it was first coined by Italian academic Alessandra Di Maio, an assistant professor of English at the University of Palermo. Along with 150 works of art by 44 international artists – including Omar Victor Diop, Zanele Muholi, Mary Sibande, Mickalene Thomas and Deborah Willis – the show also includes items from the African art collection of Nigerian Nobel Prize-winning author, Wole Soyinka.

Spanning time, space and genres, this powerful exhibition includes depictions of African bodies in European art and re-imagines black identity for the 21st century. Black figures are presented as soldiers, courtiers and servants, as saints, prophets and mythical characters. But they are also employed to represent and respond to the crisis of people on the move from Africa to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea, which has swallowed more than 1,500 souls this year alone. The exhibition seeks to amend a deep problem with representations of black bodies in Europe: a history in which our voices have been racialized, subjugated and silenced. It becomes clear that slavery and colonialism are not merely historic footnotes but contemporary lived realities for the thousands of Africans who cross the choppy waters of the sea that the Romans christened Mare Nostrum (Our Sea). Yet, the ‘our’ here does not include black bodies. It’s a sea which the European Union has militarized as its member states squabble over the legality of search and rescue missions: this summer, Italy’s far-right deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini denied NGO rescue boats the right to dock in Italian ports. The EU has built a vast border infrastructure to keep migrants out and justifies letting them die in the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea as a deterrent to people smugglers, but the policy has failed. ‘ReSignifications’ is a timely unpicking of how long-hidden, forgotten or denied histories play into this ongoing crisis.

Today’s realities at Europe’s border are rooted in slavery, colonialism, mass extraction and global capitalism – a plethora of historic political forces that have imbued the West with power and wealth for centuries, at the expense of countries in the Global South. When it comes to current public discussions about immigration in the Mediterranean and beyond, this is a fact that is rarely acknowledged. From the 1880s to the 1940s, Italy was the colonial power in Somalia, Libya and Eritrea and, in 1936, Ethiopia was occupied by Benito Mussolini’s fascist state. But, in Italy, the media coverage of migration tends to repeat that ‘these people’ have come from nowhere and for no apparent reason. Nor, for that matter, is the violence meted out to African migrants by EU border systems much discussed. Decolonizing means the creation of a decolonial gaze in order to understand the historic context of migration yet, going by most news reports,  this has not happened.

Responding to the crisis in the Mediterranean also means understanding the Eurocentric architecture of legal definitions. We need to decolonize the 1951 Refugee Convention, the key legal document that was ratified by 145 state parties and adopted by the United Nations. It is too limited to respond adequately to the contemporary scale of migration that has been caused not just by war but by climate change and economic crises. If, say, a Gambian or Senegalese migrant journeys to Europe in search of a better life, they are not perceived to be as deserving of the same level of sympathy as a Syrian. The result is a league table of migrant suffering and the reiteration of simplistic binaries between good versus bad migrants. This is an outmoded approach to understanding the complexities of what motivates people to leave their homelands.

To illegally cross a border, to evade border guards, to scale metal fences and to survive the Mediterranean Sea is an act not only of survival but of imagination. To end this tide of human misery not only requires sensible, humane  and unified government policies, but  a willingness to understand the deeper histories of colonialism and violence that cast non-white bodies as victims lacking agency. The current situation renders Africans invisible and, for many Europeans, simply reinforces Africa itself as a caricature of its nightmares and beauty.

Main image: Deni Ponty, Art Guard, 2000. Courtesy: the artist and New York University

Published in frieze, issue 199, November/December 2018, with the title ‘Our Sea’.

Ismail Einashe

Ismail Einashe is a writer based in London, UK.

Issue 199

First published in Issue 199

November - December 2018



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