30 November 2011
In our performance The Wonderland, we are dealing with the process of integration and the position of immigrants in the Slovenian society, and also European society in a broader sense.
The performance is inspired by the location of the Office for Foreigners on Tobačna street, in The City Council of the City of Ljubljana. A long, wide pavement leads to the Office, set at the back of the City Council building, which for us symbolizes very long, hard and sometimes impossible process of integration of immigrants into the foreign society. At the same time, it might be a symbol of a process, which is compulsory for everyone who wants to live in the Republic of Slovenia. The language of the administrative apparatus, acting on our lives requires that at the begging of that long pavement, we put away out private stories and compress them between the sections of the documents, we need to bring to the Office. Now we can exceed the following several hundred steps to the end of our way, to the place, where Slovenes are not seen frequently.
We are immigrants, and we share experiences of several people who have to walk along the long pavement on Tobačna street. We want to say that the voice of the bureaucracy that we never hear,
but we automatically surrender to, is a scam. We are more, than a folder of documents: we believe that evaluation based on administrative criteria and country belonging is an artificial construct of a state propaganda. Despite the fact that some do not meet the bureaucratic categories and were not born in the better countries, we are all equal. Nonetheless, feelings of shame, exclusion and alienation, are common to all of us, who walked along the gray, endless surface of the pavement towards the Office for Foreigners.
In our performance we are standing still for hours in the middle of the long passage wearing plastic animal masks, showing the part of a foreign society often means a transformation of one’s identity, which is also quite often painful and undignified. It could be understood as a metaphor of being an immigrant. It often involves the feeling of being trapped in an empty space of non – belonging, one has left his/hers country, but is not (and my not ever be) fully accepted in the new society.
Otherwise we leave the interpretation of our performance to the passers-by, who might be wondering what is beneath this seemingly bizarre gesture. Is there something wrong with us, with them or with the whole situation in general?
The work itself is a critical response to the xenophobic and discriminatory attitude towards immigrants in the Slovenian and European societies, and above all is a very personal and humoristic critique of the absurdity of a bureaucratic apparatus and politics of an exclusion of the Others.
Nevena Aleksovski, Sebastian Krawczyk
Special thanks to: Jadranka Plut, Ana Grobler, Luka Žibret, Saša Bračič
Photo: Ana Grobler
Video documentation of the Wonderland performance
The execution of this project is cofinanced by the European Commission. The content of the project is at sole liability of the author and by no means it represents the stands of the European Commision.