Talk Real meets Oliver Ressler

The influx of refugees and migrants in Europe is often interpreted in media and political discourse as a crisis and a threat. TRANSEUROPA brought to Madrid a series of exhibitions questioning the role of Europe and its responsibility to be a place of sanctuary and cultural exchange. As part of this exchange, Oliver Ressler curated two videos reflecting on the voices that go unheard in the so called “refugee debate”: ‘Emergency turned upside Down’ and ‘There are no Syrian Refugees in Turkey’.

Using Oliver’s words, “Emergency Turned Upside-Down” confronts the cynical and inhuman discourse that calls refugees presence in Europe “emergency” when that word should be applied to the war, terror and economic strangulation that forced people to move. This latest migration wave is the emigrants’ rational response to the wars waged in Asia (“Middle East” and beyond) and Africa by Western powers willing to prop up or shoot down local proxies – kill “Arab Springs” or command them – as opportunist interest dictates.

In ‘There are no Syrian Refugees in Turkey’, the film channels voices that not only go unheard but are quite unheard-of in the Western “refugee debate” – because if Europe is the center of the world, speakers like these couldn’t possibly exist. They are Syrian refugees who preferred not to seek a way into the EU, choosing to continue their lives in Istanbul instead. The speakers are not seen in the film; their anonymity is maintained as a precaution against repression and unwanted consequences of all kinds. The interviews are combined with images made from long single shots taken in Istanbul.

In the context of the festival, we spoke with Oliver Ressler about his work as artist with migration, borders and the concept of nations.


European Alternatives
European Alternatives is a non-profit, non-state organisation working with the conviction that a transnational renovation of our political imaginations, institutions and actions needs to take place to adequately understand and address the crises Europe is facing.