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
Communication Coordinator: Selim Özadar
Graphic Design: Jan Grygoriew
A project by bi’bak in Cooperation with Archive (Berlin), DEPO (Istanbul) and DOMiD – Documentation Center and Museum about Migration in Germany (Cologne).
Funded by the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe.
Kindly supported by Goethe Institute Istanbul.
Worldwide, labor migration creates new models of family life, which is often organized transnationally. Despite geographical distances the family members strive to maintain contact. bi'bak's interdisciplinary research project BITTER THINGS - Narratives and Memories of Transnational Families retraces positions on the topic from the 1960s right up to present day perspectives.
Besides the exhibition a side program there is a side program with films, lectures and discussions is held. Moreover, a publication examines the topic from interdisciplinary perspectives with academic and literary contributions, interviews, songtexts and photographs.
For the book launch at DEPO in Istanbul a panel discussion with Ayşe Akalın (Sociologist), Ok-Hee Jeong (Author) and Malve Lippmann (bi'bak) takes place, moderated by Maike Suhr (editor of BITTER THINGS).
Welcome and Introduction by Malve Lippmann and Can Sungu (bi’bak)
Lecture by Dr. Ayşe Akalın (Associate Professor of Sociology Istanbul Technical University)
Reading by Ok-Hee Jeong (Author)
Panel discussion with Ayşe Akalın, Ok-Hee Jeong, Malve Lippmann, Moderator Maike Suhr
A project by bi’bak in cooperation with Archive (Berlin), DEPO Istanbul and DOMiD – Documentation Center and Museum about Migration in Germany (Cologne). Funded by the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe. Kindly supported by Goethe Institute Istanbul.
Ayşe Akalın is associate professor of sociology at Istanbul Technical University. In her research she focuses on gender and migration. Her PhD is about foreign domestic workers in Turkey.
Ok-Hee Jeong works as a freelance writer, journalist and filmmaker in Berlin. Her recent articles have appeared in ZEIT Online, taz and bento. She writes about South Korea’s politics and society as well as South Korean migration to Germany. In 2016, her documentary film SEWOL about the parents of the victims of the Sewol boat disaster came to the cinemas in Germany.
Maike Suhr studied social and business communications at the Universität der Künste Berlin. Her research focuses on transnationalism and material culture. From 2016-2019 she worked at bi'bak as an editor and writer.
Filmscreening for the closing of the exhibition BITTER THINGS – Narrative and Memoirs of Transnational Families at DEPO in Istanbul.
Hastabakıcı / Abigail (Soner Sert, Turkey, 2017, 17 min.) Original with EN / TR / RU subtitles
Anna, a Russian immigrant in Turkey, is employed as a nurse for an old lady. She is highly dependent on the job to earn a living for her child back home. Suddenly she finds herself in a difficult situation.
Waiting for August (Teodora Ana Mihai, Belgium, 2014, 88 min.) Original with EN subtitles
Georgiana will soon turn 15 and is taking care of her six younger siblings. The seven children are living together in Romania while their mother works in Italy. The oldest sister cooks, cleans and besides tries to find time for studying. In August the mother shall return.
Teodora Ana Mihai was born 1981 in Bucharest, Romania. She studied at Sarah Lawrence College in Upstate New York. Waiting for August was screened in numerous festivals and was awarded with several prizes.
In Cooperation with Archive Berlin, DEPO Istanbul and DOMiD – Museum und Dokumentationszentrum für die Migration in Deutschland, Köln. Funded by the Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa and Goethe Institut Istanbul.
Soner Sert studied cinema and television at Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul and film design at Dokuz Eylül University in Izmir. Hastabakıcı / Abigail was awarded best film in Kısa-Ca International Students Film Festival.