Daniela Ortiz (Cusco, Peru, 1985) holds a BA in Fine Arts and Xose Quiroga (Ourense, Galicia, 1979) holds a BA in Law and a Diploma in Photography. Their work seeks to create spaces of tension in which the concepts of race, social class, nationality and gender are explored to convey social behaviour as a structure based on inclusion and exclusion. In recent years, the phenomenon of migration and its management by States and societies has constituted a central theme in their projects and research. They co-edit the independent news website Antigonia and have participated together in the urban art festival Afuera in Cerro de Pasco in Peru, the exhibition “¿Y qué si la democracia ocurre?” in Lima and various others shows in Spain. Daniela Ortiz has been awarded grants by the Cisneros Fontanals and Guasch-Coranty foundations, as well as a publication award from the Sala d’Art Jove. In addition, she has held solo exhibitions in the Espai 13 at the Fundació Miró and in the Àngels Barcelona gallery, and group shows in the US, Sweden, Romania, Argentina, Spain and the Czech Republic. Xose Quiroga garnered the Palermo Photo Story 2005 prize and collaborates with independent print media such as the newspaper Diagonal and the weekly Directa. He is a member of the Barcelona-based photography group GroundPress.
The organisation United Against Racism recently published a list of 16,264 documented refugee deaths through Fortress Europe. Of them, 15,518 people have been identified as NN (no name) on the list. Of the 748 named people, several do not have a surname. The total number of deaths is not recorded, as EU Member States do not issue official statistics. These deaths are the culmination of the huge apparatus through which these States persecute immigrants. This apparatus includes government, military and law enforcement bodies, as well as the profitable involvement of private enterprise. The document was not a cause for massive social outrage, regardless of the constant public demands made today, owing to the conditions imposed by the EU in terms of social cuts and the reduction of the welfare state.
NN 15.518 (NN 15,518) articulates a strategy to raise the visibility of the people that disappear at EU borders, or of those already present in the territory that come to occupy spaces of exception in the migration management structure, such as detention centres for migrants. The project challenges the concept of citizenship, which is reflected in the structures that uphold and regulate migration security in the EU, as well as distance from the colonies which pushes public interest – civil society and the media – in these deaths, disappearances and abuse into the background.
Using the list as a leitmotif, a public seminar was convened at La Capella on 11 March, which revolved around the concepts of sovereignty, globalisation, labour rights, health and housing. The seminar entailed a collective reading of the list – which was not announced in advance – by various influential social movement figures. This list also acts as the core of the installation in the central nave, reproduced on a large scale in a portable edition, as well as in audio and video recordings of the seminar. In the first chapel, visitors can see an outline of the complex structure implied by migration management, from State laws that create second-class citizens and sub-citzens/non-citizens to highly delicate situations, when control falls into the hands of private enterprises with their own regulations and vested interests. The second chapel presents a series of interviews in which those invited to the seminar present their views and their association with the migrant population’s situation, in a space for reflection and analysis that stretches beyond the manifesto.
Though European colonialism has been characterised by physical distance with the colonies, when the “other”, the colonised subject, is in the same physical space, there are tangible and intangible mechanisms of differentiation. The abuses perpetrated by the system and the death of people, within the EU, have official participation and social indifference behind them. The State apparatus and the social fabric prevent these individuals from being fully identified, from receiving empathy and recognition as citizens, reiterating the existence of a “European subjectivity” which has historically denied the equality of the “other”.
Jornada ciutadana a La Capella i una xifra: 15.518, Irina Mutt