Mobilities and Representation. (un)Documented Migrants in Art

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:45
Location: Hörsaal 23 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Andreas HUDELIST, Alpen-Adria-Universitat Klagenfurt, Austria
Matthias WIESER, Department of Media & Communications, Austria
The talk addresses issues of mobility through a discussion of the art work “natalia, turn the light on” by Ioana Păun. This installation highlights the invisibility of migrant workers by using mobile selftracking technologies (lifelogging). The undocumented services performed by migrants comes to the fore and is visualized through calorie counters which are used to symbolically store the energy expended by the illegal housekeepers and use it to turn on the light in the exhibition space.

This art work takes up crucial issues of mobility and hybridization of contemporary everyday life. However, we want to critically explore the status of the migrants in the gallery. On the one hand, they are represented through diagram and light that draws attention to their precarious lives. On the other hand, they are silenced and reduced to abstract data information. This reproduces the capitalistic logic of exploitation and surveillance. Therefore, their visualized silence does not strengthen their agency. The art work uses the possibilities of mobile technologies to imagine a better world by giving migrant workers more visibility and discussing their low pay. However this promise shimmers within the art production and fades into the darkness of the migrant’s future.