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Installations on migration and identity

Munich, 01/20/2014

The Master’s program in Intercultural Communication recently devoted a seminar to the problematic identity of second-generation migrants. Besides completing the usual course assignments, they produced several installations inspired by the theme, which will be on show on 22 January.

ausstellung_identitaeten_260I must say, your German is very, very good. -
But I am a German. -
Oh really? I thought … well, you know. -
You mean the color of my skin? -
No-o, that’s not what I was thinking of. Where do you come from anyway? -
I’m from Munich. -
Yes, of course. You just mentioned that you are German. But what about your parents? -
They’re from Erlangen and Bonn. -
Is that so? And your father’s parents? -
They were born in Silesia. -
Amazing! And on your mother’s side? -
My mother comes from India. -
I thought so. -
Why are you so interested? Are you a genealogist by any chance? -
Of course not. Where did you get that idea? But, tell me, what’s it like in India then?“
(From a conversation at a party, reported by a trustworthy source)

Professor Juliana Roth chose this exchange as the motto for the seminar on “The Communication of Identity in a Multicultural Society”, because it underlines how much of a minefield the issue has become. "Identity has become very much of a live issue in our society, as more and more migrants try to find their place in it,” she says. “The seminar dealt looked at questions such as: ‘How do migrants view their own identity? What identity does a migrant adopt?”’ In addition to taking the conventional approach, beginning with the theoretical foundations, confronting these with empirical findings and then assessing the students’ grasp of the issues by giving them assignments to do at home, Roth wanted to take a different tack. The students were asked to immerse themselves in the lives of migrants by conducting in-depth interviews with them, and then to find ways of depicting and expressing their worlds in the language of art. For this section of the seminar Roth enlisted the artist Reinhild Gerum, who had already tackled the problem in her own work, and agreed to help the students to discover adequate ways of expressing the impact and import of their findings.

As a result, the harvest of this unusual seminar includes twelve annotated installations, which visitors will be able to see on 22 January. One of the installations in the show is entitled “A Success Story from Two Different Perspectives”, and was conceived by Ramona Mayr, whose interview partner was a German who has Polish roots. “The mirror within a mirror which forms part of my installation enables the viewer to see herself twice. My hope is that this experience will stimulate the viewer to adopt the ‘double’ perspective of the immigrant.”

Professor Juliana Roth is looking forward to the show organized by her students, and regards it as confirming the value of her concept for the seminar. “Quite apart from the outcome of the seminar itself, the whole-hearted commitment of the students who took part in it has been really remarkable. And people who are interested in the issue of how migrants construct an identity in the new environment will certainly find the exhibition worth a visit.”

The installations will be on show on 22 January, 19.00, in the foyer, Oettingenstraße 67.


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