This book emerged as a collaboration with Kurdish activist Murad Zorava, who started to write during this project and I hope he might continue.
In 2017, I was renting a studio in one of the two towers of Bijlmerbajes, a former prison in Amsterdam-Zuid-Oost. The second tower was then used by the government as an Asylum-Seekers-Center (AZC). My plan was to attempt a collaboration with the refugees staying there at the time, among whom was Murad.
During my project in Bijlmerbajes, I was confronted with eye-opening questions: What does equality mean, when it is equality between a refugee and an artist, between – so to speak –trained artist and the person who did not study art at all? Can we imagine rethinking and abandoning the idea of enlightenment? How to deal with the notion of Care without falling into patronization, but soberly staying within the frame of Radical Care?
At the start of my research, I visited AZC meetings. These were some of the regular lessons provided to the refugees to teach them about the social structure of the Netherlands and what they could expect here. Nothing was said during those meetings about culture and art, let alone contemporary art. This was surprising to me. It felt as if these people were held not equal to us, westerners, as many westerners believe they cannot survive without a breath of cultural or artistic air. Another thing that struck me was the fact of placing people in the environment of a prison: bars on windows, no locks from inside the rooms, no actual privacy, and unpleasant communal places.
Being haunted by this image of Murad in the cell of the former prison, I started to think about what exactly I could do in this situation. During one of the workshops, I proposed participants write a diary, and Murad accepted this idea. I am very happy to hope that the project had a practical outcome in reality. Murad believes that work with the publishing of his Diary helped him to settle down in Amsterdam.
The book can be purchased here https://www.buchhandlung-walther-koenig.de/koenig2/index.php?mode=details&showcase=1&art=1638030