How do we imagine Europe? How do non-Europeans imagine Europe? What does it mean to be European, indeed? What is Europe really about? How do we imagine ourselves and the otherness? What does it mean to stay together? How are cliches, stereotypes, etc. being built in our societies? What happens when we ask these questions, when we ask ourselves our deepest fears, certainties and assumptions?
European Souvenirs (Crossing Shifting Borders) live cinema and remix performance was staged for the first time on Saturday, 6th October in Amsterdam. The event it was framed in, Imagining Europe, was «questioning what (…) means to be part of Europe and whether (Europeans) want to continue to be part of it, while people around the world are talking about Europe’s economic and cultural future».
The combination of live cinema (rooted in the origins of cinema) and remix (sampling from pre-existing footage to combine them into new forms according to personal taste) can truly contribute to deconstruct our social and cultural European imaginaries: all the symbolic dimension in which our values, norms, traditions, identities or borders are represented. Or being more precise: the ways of togetherness we all can imagine. If we can really live together or not is a question the show brings up to the audience again and again.
European Souvenirs is a collective exploration by five young media artists featuring media found at archives in their countries and existing imagery of Europe and its travellers. This expedition is deeply influenced by the hegemonic media landscape we silently consume in our daily life: music videos, commercials, tv news, pop culture ultimately.
However, Europeans (and this project is an investigation about what being European really means) are much more told what they are than telling the stories about what they feel they are. That’s the reason why the show uses home video archives, found footage and audiovisual material from different institutions in Europe, in charge of the common memories.
Karol Rakowski (PL), Barış Gürsel (TR), Farah Rahman (NL), Malaventura (ES) and Noriko Okaku (JP/UK) draw a new picture departing from these images but uncovering the veil of them. what the audience will find during the show is an exploration of new narratives searching for a much more inclusive Europe. images are accompanied by data unveiling, for instance, a map of European colonization.
European Souvenirs is in that sense a provocation to the Europe we are accustomed to represent and find represented. Shake up minds, provoke reactions, debates, discussions about what Europe and being European is. All of them are objectives of this audiovisual and process-oriented investigative project.
Pop culture hacker Jonathan McIntosh has recently found connections between documentary filming and remix techniques: «the source media reveal the narrative», «countless hours gathering available audiovisual source material trying to construct a narrative plot from all the pieces», «we have a previous idea in our head for the topics we want to cover, the points we want to hit and the general direction we want to take the project but we’re never completely sure what we will find along the way or exactly how it will all fit together in the end».
These are definitely common features with European Souvenirs we invite new audiences to explore together with the artists.