Artist: Ania Dąbrowska
30th December 2017
Various locations, private apartments
Participatory activities in with members of Polish community in London.
Heirloom was a participatory element of Dąbrowska's work for The Illusion of Return project, 2017. Working with Polish communities in London, this project explored their perspectives on international belonging, heritage and national identity in a post-Brexit context. Drawing on her interest in archives and cultural memory, she staged actions that: manifested the value of migratory experience; deconstructed and fleshed out the process of cultural memory making; and turned conversations about these abstract and potentially contentious concepts into a combination of processes, exchanges, performances and physical objects. Participants, audiences, and herself all played active roles in the manufacturing of this contemporary, collective migrant heirloom.
Participants were asked to bring to the sessions the oldest or most treasured photographs of their families and places from their family albums, as well as any objects that symbolically represented their home and where they come from, or what they considered to be a family heirloom. They were also encouraged to bring along music that they associate with home. These stimuli were used as a starting point for workshop discussions, during which we produced portraits, installations, performances and spatial interventions, documented through sound recordings, photography and video.