Artist: Ania Dąbrowska
30th December 2017
Various locations, private apartments
Heirloom engaged members of Polish community in London in participatory art creation and deliberation. It comprised an inclusive outreach aspect of Dąbrowska's work which was a composite part of The Illusion of Return project, launched in 2017. '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. The project engages artists (who have decided to live in the UK) with the ironic injunction to “go back home” – both literally and exploratorily. Drawing on her specific perspective on archives and cultural memory, Dąbrowska explored the process of culturally informed memory production; she turned conversations about these abstract and politically potent concepts into a combination of performances and physical objects. Participants, audiences and the artist played active roles in the manufacturing of this collective yet diverse exploration of migrants’ heirlooms.
The participants were asked to bring to the sessions their most treasured or oldest photographs taken of their families and places of cultural-familial significance, along with objects that were thought to represent their culture of origin; they were also encouraged to bring any form of a family heirloom. Musical pieces associated with their cultural memories were also brought in. These aesthetic stimuli were used as the starting points for workshop discussions; from the emerging themes arising in the workshops, the artists present produced portraits, installations, performances, and spatial interventions also documented through sound recordings, photography, and video. These productions were intended to symbolise, embody and express the yearnings, problematisations, and legacies that cultural memories evoked for the participants.