Without dreams no one would set off for somewhere else

The world’s oceans on an atlas form the work’s background. Most atlases contain maps illustrating global data from temperatures and world trade to waves of migration throughout history. The map that is now visible on the façade of the Kruitberg housing block shows where those resident in the building in mid-2005 originally came from.

Throughout the world people decide or are forced to migrate to other regions. They leave everything behind to build a new life elsewhere.

Almost everyone who lives in this Amsterdam neighbourhood known as the Bijlmer has come from somewhere else. The history of the Bijlmer has been shaped to an important extent by both the many diverse communities that have settled there and by their stories.

With a team, I rang the doorbells of each of the building’s 328 residents to ask them where they were born. They wrote down the names of the cities and villages themselves. These words in their original handwriting were then cut out of plastic and attached to the block’s façade. The texts also include intriguing statements by the residents about the division inherent to a life in two cultures.

This work reflects current events in an age with an unprecedented level of discussion about migration. The work does not represent any particular point of view within this debate. Rather it functions at an extremely basic and sometimes forgotten level: welcoming the foreigner and thus creating the first opportunity for communication. As the philosopher Jacques Derrida once said: “A gesture of hospitality can only be poetic”.

Painting and light installation on the fire wall, 31×10 meter

In collaboration with: Elsey Bleijd, Xiomara Kopra, Jozefien Gronheid and Martin Hansen