Carlos Motta, ‘The Crossing’
16 September 2017 – 21 January 2018
The New York-based, Colombian artist’s installation at the Stedelijk constitutes a poignant pause for reflection on histories of colonialism and exodus, at a time when a resurgent European neo-fascism exercises ever-greater threats against ideas of hospitality. It consists of a set of intimate video portraits of LGBTQI refugees, talking about the journeys that have taken them from their homelands – Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Morocco and Pakistan – to the Netherlands, and the abuse they have faced while seeking asylum: these stories of dangerous crossings, and the particular violence of refugee policies and gender politics are relayed direct to camera. Motta worked with the campaigning organization Secret Gardens which supports the lives of LGBTQI refugees, recording his interviews earlier this year. Meanwhile, cutting through these accounts, ‘The Crossing’ also interrupts the space with historic objects from the collections of the Rijksmuseum, Tropenmuseum, and Amsterdam Museum. These are laid out in glass cabinets: photos and ceramics which record the various arrivals to the Netherlands across a longer historical span. Motta’s visual essays, steeped in queer histories, work to ‘create counter narratives that recognize suppressed histories, communities and identities’ – a much-needed reconsideration of what documentary can be, when mainstream representation and debate around LGBTQI lives remain so impoverished.