The Illusion of Return

Artists: Karolina Lebek, Alicja Rogalska, Joanna Rajkowska and Katarzyna Perlak, Justyna Scheuring 
Curated by Katarzyna Sobucka

Various locations
Sept 2017 - Oct 2018

'The Illusion of Return' is a project dealing with the subjects of migration, home and belonging through the portrayal and representation of individual stories depicted by participating artists. This project of narratives – drawn from artists journeys and experiences of reversing their process of immigration to the UK – include research, residency and commissioning. The project engages the artists (who have decided to live in the UK) with the ironic injunction to “go back home” – both literally and exploratorily. The residencies take the artists deeper into their lived environment, the cities and towns, and they engage in a reinterpretation and cross-evaluation of their cultural legacies, and their associated myriad of identities. The project encourages artists and audiences to reflect upon their own personal story of migration and to reconsider the idea of a home that is for most of us connected with a great many emotions, dreams and illusions.

The questions we ask include: To what extent are identity and belonging related to birthplace? What makes a person identify with a specific culture or a country? How do experiences of migration complicate these questions?

'The Illusion of Return' aims to challenge our common ideas about migration, national identity and a collective sense of belonging. While family, ancestry and birthplace are vital to our sense of who we are, this project examines how these bio-genetic ties interrelate with the socio-political identities of the artists, because of migration, in complex and at times contradictory ways. The project explicitly and implicitly promotes collaborative and progressive integration within and between cultures; it celebrates diversity and extols tolerance; values that were recently challenged by the post-Brexit political landscape, the emerging political trend towards nationalism and populism evidenced in elections across Europe.

The outcomes will be included in an exhibition and via live events, accompanied by dedicated artist-led outreach and education programmes; these will include a series of conversations pairing artists with public intellectuals to address critical topics relating to identity and migration; symposiums as well as workshops with community groups will also be held.


Katarzyna Perlak, Happily Ever After  and  Folk Love and Utopia 

Joanna Rajkowska, Two Men and a Mattress 

Alicja Rogalska, Milk and Honey and Postcards from Emigration

Ania Dąbrowska, Heirloom


Supported by The Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Scholarship Program and Arts Council England

Partners: Art Transparent, Wrocław