The project Conversations – Sewing Workshops for Asylum Seekers is an accompanying project to the solo exhibition Conversations of the artist Dejan Kaludjerović, which will be held in Vienna in October 2017 on the occasion of the reopening of the Weltmuseum Wien.
Kaludjerović's work series Conversations: Hula Hoops, Elastics, Marbles and Sand (2013 – ongoing) is based on interviews with children (6 – 10 years old) from different cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds. It deals with issues like friendship, dreams, games, social and political issues such as social exclusion and inclusion, but also foreigners, language, money, war, poverty. Through the answers of children, we are experiencing what it means to them to be a foreigner, to be rich or poor, to speak another language, to be a girl or a boy. The children's responses point to the ideological, cultural and social structures that are given by family, school or other educational institutions, by the media and by the global consumer society, and how they deal with it. This is socially relevant in the sense that the world view of school children as well as their socially coded and normatively predetermined identity - especially at an age when they still develop their minds and attitudes completely free - mainly reflect the world of adults.
The exhibition at the Weltmuseum Wien will show an 18 channel sound, 4 channel video and a site-specific installation ("playground") composed out of the visual elements of all the already existing versions from the series Conversations: Hula-hoops, Elastics, Marbles and Sand (2013 – ongoing).
Parallel to the exhibition at the Weltmuseum Wien, free sewing workshops are being organized for asylum seekers at the VHS Polycollege Margareten/Kunsthandwerk.
Five people who are currently living in asylum homes are invited to acquire sewing skills and silkscreen printing technique between April and August 2017. The participants will produce tote bags with thoughts of the interviewed children from Kaludjerović's piece. These printed sentences show, on the one hand, what children think and how they perceive the world. On the other hand, the children's responses can inspire us to reflect on what answers we give to the questions of what we think about our social reality, what moves us and what hinders us.
The produced tote bags will be sold in the shop of the Weltmuseum. Half of the proceeds will be donated to the participants of the sewing course.
As our "new neighbours”, asylum seekers are key participants in the project. The project aims to create common spaces by enabling them to acquire sustainable skills (sewing courses). The participants will acquire specific qualifications and knowledge which are intended to enable them to integrate more quickly into the new society or to assist them in their further work search.
Furthermore, project Conversations – Sewing Workshops for Asylum Seekers aspires to foster a dialogue and tolerance between people of different origins, to contribute to a positive perception of people with different cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds, as well as to contribute to overcoming xenophobia and prejudice against other cultures and ethnicities in Austrian society.
Conversations - Sewing Workshops for Asylum Seekers is realized by BLOCKFREI in cooperation with Volkshochschulen (VHS Ottakring and VHS Polycollege Margareten/Kunsthandwerk.) and Weltmuseum Wien.
The project is supported by Erste Bank MehrWERT Sponsoring, MA17 and Institut für Erlebnispädagogik und Outdooraktivitäten.