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CA PUBLIC! Un/Stable Narratives – artistic views on migration

Lectures by Eva Leitolf and Özkan Gölpinar

Public lectures and dialogue

Thursday 3 March 2016, 18.00 – 20.00
Baselstrasse 61b, 6003 Lucerne

Lectures by:
Eva Leitolf
Photographer / visual artist (Bavaria)

Özkan Gölpinar
Art critic, curator, writer and lecturer (Amsterdam)

Podium discussion with Eva Leitolf, Özkan Gölpinar and Lukas Einsele, senior lecturer at CA moderated by Evert Ypma, program leader of CA

Christoph Zellweger, artist, researcher and professor at Sheffield Hallam University and head of the BA XS Jewellery at Lucerne School of Art & Design, will briefly present ‘Jewellery on the Run’ (“Schmuck auf die Flucht”) a project idea and initiative that explores jewellery related narratives connected to migration and flight, to object, memory and identity.

This lecture event has been initiated by Camera Arts, the study programme for photography in the contexts of art, design, media, and society at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and arts, School of Art and Design.

German / English

Eva Leitolf. Postcards from Europe. Guitgia, Lampedusa, Italy 2012

Un/Stable Narratives
artistic views on migration

Currently the public debate is focussed on the military, political and humanitarian crisis in Syria, Iraq and on the millions of people who are seeking refuge in Europe or elsewhere. The voices of politicians, media and citizens are dominated by simplistic imaginations and images that tend to reduce the complex nature of refugees to an ‘issue’, in which subjects become generalised and anonymous. This leads to narratives of fear and abstractions in numbers of people, casualties, Euros, and harsh legal mechanics.

This CA PUBLIC! aims to focus on another question: How can artists engage with the narratives of refugees? And how do these narratives of (post-)migration change in time, space, and context?

Art has a capacity to detect developments in society at an early stage, and art can show what is not so evident to the naked eye. Artists can tell the untold stories. Art can be humanitarian, reaching out a hand to a fellow human being. Some artists do claim to show ‘the human side of the story’. Art can be utilitarian and it can promote change on the ground by representing stories and offering counter narratives to propaganda and fear mongering. However, there are practical and ethical pitfalls to artworks dealing with the refugee experience, with artists claiming to speak on behalf of those whose experience they do not share. Furthermore, the debate also intends to tackle aspects of identity construction, multiple storytelling and memory.


Camera Arts invited Eva Leitolf (Bavaria) and Özkan Gölpinar (Amsterdam) to articulate their takes on the complex relationship between visual arts and migration.

Eva Leitolf will present various artistic projects created by, with and between (post-)migrants. She will also show and discuss her photographic long-term project ‘Postcards from Europe’, which focuses on the ways the European Community relates to migration, administers migrant movements, and works to tighten control of its external borders. Throughout her research-oriented engagement with the various aspects of migration, Leitolf develops a wide range of multi-layered narratives (personal, social, cultural, historical and political).

Özkan Gölpinar comments on a sample of artworks that he has curated, such as ‘The Museum of Im/migration/Lost&Found’, and other project contexts. He will address the capacity of art to show what is not evident to see, and also the humanitarian dimension of art that reaches out a hand to a fellow human being. He questions how asylum seekers and refugees are portrayed and how these visual representations sometimes claim to operate as a link between refugees and the outside world. Subjacent to this discussion, Gölpinar also addresses the uneven power dynamic between artist and subject, as well as the risk of reducing the character of refugees to an “issue”.




Eva Leitolf was born in 1966. When she is not travelling for her work, she lives in a farmhouse in the Bavarian Forest, Germany.
She studied at University GH Essen, gained her MFA at the California Institute of the Arts and now teaches regularly at international art schools and universities. Her works have been shown at international institutions including the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Fotomuseum Rotterdam and the Wallach Art Gallery in New York. Eva’s work regularly features in the colour supplements of Süddeutsche Zeitung and Die Zeit. Her publications include: Postcards from Europe 03/13 (ongoing project on migration and how European societies react to it, since 2006), Deutsche Bilder – eine Spurensuche (image text work on racist and xenophobic violence in Germany, 1992-2008) and Rostock Ritz (a research of Namibian-German colonial past 2004).




Özkan Gölpinar (1968, Sivas, Turkey) is an art critic, curator, writer and lecturer.
He lives in the Netherlands and lectures at several art academies and universities. Currently he is a member of the Council for Culture and legal adviser for the Dutch government in the fields of the arts, culture and media. He is also an affiliated researcher at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society, working on a publication that features the ways that Dutch/European Art History has been reinvigorated in the last two decades by global movements. He has authored numerous articles on art and artists. In his former position as programme manager for the Mondriaan Foundation he was responsible for 400 national and international projects in the field of Fine Arts, Artistic Film, Architecture and Design. He created the programme ‘Art Beyond Borders’ to advance meaningful artistic dialogue between the Netherlands and the rest of the world (with a special focus on the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Western and Southern Africa), by analysing and commenting on contemporary art practices and approaches. After his studies in journalism and postgraduate film and television studies, Gölpinar worked as a journalist and documentary filmmaker for the daily newspaper, the Volkskrant, among other media.

Özkan Gölpinar, Council for Culture

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