“I’m literally putting Gypsies on the map.”
Damian Le Bas on Safe European Home?
SAFE EUROPEAN HOME?
“I’m literally putting Gypsies on the map,” Damian Le Bas would say of his cartographic representations of Europe.
Although seen from a Roma, Gypsy, Traveller perspective this ongoing project Safe European Home? which Damian and Delaine Le Bas have been showing throughout Europe since 2011 encompasses their broader protest against the phantom of fascism they believe to be stalking the continent.
The title itself is taken from a Clash song, a band well known for taking an active anti-fascist stance.
Refusing to be history-blind, the pioneering work of Damian and Delaine Le Bas serves as a timely wake-up call to remind us that the human soul has no borders.
Safe European Home? is an ongoing project that takes different artistic forms. Art and performance as an educational tool as a political statement. Creating a space where a different conversation can take place about the current state of the Safe European Home?
Questioning ideas of what Europe is historically and currently, the Nation state and the issues now confronting Europe concerning migration and the current refugee crisis.
Historical positioning of Roma within this context which informs the current position and crisis regarding migration particularly concerning social status in terms of the ability to move and work within Europe. The potential of new ways of living and contested space.
Safe European Home? was first constructed outside the parliament building Vienna in 2011 and has subsequently been installed in various forms in Berlin, Copenhagen, Dublin, Malmo, Essex, Dublin and Thessaloniki.
We live in structures all our lives. Structures surround us, comfort us and contain us. They give us the freedom to launch ourselves into the world – and a place to return to. We all need a home.
During this time of unprecedented migrant and refugee movement across Europe, artists Damian and Delaine Le Bas focus on those who inhabit the outside edges of society. Damian is an Irish Traveller, Delaine an English Romany and together they are familiar with issues of displacement, borders and boundaries, which so often become the focus of their work, real or imagined.
Damian’s painted maps sit alongside Delaine’s textiles, banners and ephemera, creating an environment that allows us to consider the precariousness of life on the periphery. This exhibition creates a space to discuss the rise of the nation state and the historical contexts that informs our current political situation.
THE ROMA PAVILIONS
In 2007 Damian and Delaine helped organize and participated in the first Roma Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the first edition of a performance and platform dedicated to giving voice to Roma art. Two years later in 2009, an intervention hosted by 10 national pavilions in Venice by the curatorial group Perpetuum Mobile, developed another edition of a meandering Pavilion in Venice.
On the occasion of what would have been the 4th Venice Pavilion in 2013, Damian and Delaine found themselves in Berlin to install Safe European Home? “We suddenly realized that this day was the opening day of the Venice Biennale,” Ivor Stodolsky of PM said. “Damian just stood there, brush in hand. Once again, Roma art was not represented, forgotten, not visible. But suddenly, in a form of a Dada act – he took the brush and painted ‘4th Roma Pavilion’ on the side of the shanty standing forlorn in front of the arch-modernist building of the Hungaricum and across from the venerated Gorki Theater.
In an act of what we were already calling ‘Gypsy Dada’ – a ready-made Venice Pavilion was created. A nomadic pavilion to be sure, but forced nomadism is precisely what so many Roma have to experience to this day,” Stodolsky described.
SAFE EUROPEAN HOME? IS AN ONGOING, ON-SITE INSTALLATION BY DELAINE AND DAMIAN LE BAS SINCE 2011
Copyright 2018 The Estate of Damian Le Bas. All Rights Reserved.