bi'bak's research-based exhibitions focus on widely neglected narratives in (Western) Europe in order to generate new perspectives that are crucial to a complex understanding of socio-political and socio-economic contexts worldwide.
BITTER THINGS – Narratives and Memories of Transnational Families is a research-based exhibition project by bi’bak that explores the impact of labor migration on the notion of motherhood and family from the perspectives of women migrant workers and children left behind. The installation takes experiences of transnational families from both past and present as a point of departure and brings narratives together with objects, which play a central role within the families.
Labor migration is worldwide creating new models of the transnational family, which despite geographical distances strives to maintain contact between the separated family members. In the time of the recruitment agreements in the 1960s, many parents were forced to leave their children behind since working hours were too demanding to make childcare on the side possible. Today it is predominantly migrant workers from Eastern Europe, who have to leave their families to earn a living in wealthier countries. Turkey, as a former country of emigration, has in turn become a destination for many workers, especially in the care sector, from Eastern Europe, the Caucasus or the Central Asian region.
But, how is the relationship between parents and children to be redefined whenever gifts and material support take the place of shared experience? When physical closeness has to take second place to communication programs like Skype and WhatsApp? How does this changing family landscape impact children and their parents? BITTER THINGS retraces positions on this topic from the 1960s right up to present day perspectives.
Besides the exhibitions a side program with films, lectures and discussions has been curated by bi’bak. Moreover a publication with academic and literary contributions, interviews, songs and photos examining the topic from interdisciplinary perspectives has been released. Order your copy here. A booklet with selected texts in German and photographs of the exhibition can be downloaded here.
Concept and Artistic Direction: Malve Lippmann, Can Sungu
Exhibition Design: Malve Lippmann
Editing, Research: Maike Suhr
Project Assistants: Zeynep Dişbudak, Esra Akkaya, Megan Black, Marthe Labes
Communication Coordinator: Selim Özadar
Graphic Design: Jan Grygoriew
A project by bi’bak in cooperation with Archive (Berlin), DEPO (Istanbul), DOMiD (Cologne) and bunker k101 (Cologne).
Funded by Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa and AWO Köln.
Malve Lippmann studied at the State Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart and at the Institute for Art in Context at the Berlin University of the Arts (MA). She worked internationally as a freelance stagedesigner and artist. Since 2010 she has also been active as a cultural manager in various cultural and community projects. She is co-founder and artistic director of bi'bak and Sinema Transtopia.
Can Sungu studied film and visual communication design in Istanbul and at the Institute for Art in Context at the Berlin University of the Arts. He has given workshops and seminars in the field of film and published texts on film and migration. As an artist, he participated in numerous exhibitions, including at MMSU Rijeka, Künstlerhaus Vienna and REDCAT Los Angeles. He is co-founder and artistic director of bi‘bak.
Loin du 16ème | Far from the 16th– Daniela Thomas (France, 2006, 5 min.)
Calea Dunării | The Course of the Danube – Sabin Dorohoi (Romania, 2013, 13 min.)
媽媽離家上班去 | Homecoming (Hong Kong, 2009, 30 min.)
Hasta Bakıcı | Abigail – Soner Sert (Turkey, 2017, 17 min.)
Kot Farkı | Ground Level – Ayris Alptekin (Turkey, 2016, 11 min.)
The short film program focuses on the living and working conditions of immigrant workers in very different countries, discussing the difficult circumstances of women who seek to gain a future for their children left behind. Loin du 16ème / Far from the 16th shows a Spanish immigrant in Paris who gives her own baby to a daycare early in the morning to look after the baby of a rich family in her job. A ten-year-old boy follows the Calea Dunării / The Course of the Danube from Romania to Vienna to find his parents. The nanny Charlie, after years of work in Hong Kong, is preparing for the long-awaited Homecoming to her son, but suddenly unexpected problems arise. Hasta Bakıcı / Abigail and Kot Farkı / Ground Level address the everyday work of care-givers in Istanbul.