didn’t know it at the time, but when I left the UK in 2013, after studying there for eleven years, I was starting a journey to unpack the question of why we are where we are? My father migrated from Taiwan to Hong Kong, which made the UK an obvious choice for his children’s education. But when my brother’s UK right to reside was granted and mine was not, our lives took their own, different directions. I couldn’t embrace this reality immediately: that human life could only continue on the histories we were born into and develops as the result of the decisions made by the imagined communities (B. Anderson, 1983). Our generation more than any other has lived with the promise of globalisation. But have we been psychologically prepared to be citizens of everywhere and nowhere, and as a result, take on parallel identities (S. Perera, 2020)?
encountered Doug Aitken’s migration (empire) (2008) when it was exhibited in Frankfurt in 2015. The video installation featured a series of animals navigating man-made spaces such as a motel room, intercut with images of suburban cities under construction. Looking up at the metres-tall billboard screens, I was humbled by the thought that feeling alienated is perhaps a shared experience among us all. Dislocated or not, we are much like the animals in the viewer’s gaze, constantly navigating the one life given to us. Leaving the exhibition I also wondered: am I one of the animals being watched? Or am I the audience looking in at the parallel version of myself? With ever-changing migration policies, among the ones who leave and the ones who are left behind, are there many of us missing the version of ourselves we can no longer visit? Are there many of us, forgotten by our own dreams and the future we once cultivated? Or, is there a profundity in my generation where we are constantly parting with the familiar because we are given the technological permission to do so?
A year later in a cafe in Taipei, I picked up Reveries of a Solitary Walker (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1782) by chance. I resonated deeply with Rousseau’s experience as an exile within his own society. His words travelled beyond time, culture and language, and acknowledged my isolation from living and existing in my first culture—Taiwan—after years of being in Europe. The overbearing solitude in my life at the time found a moment of relief in our echoing thoughts and experiences. It was then that the idea of KUA started forming. A publication that could travel beyond my physical self, investigating aspects of human conditions through the transnational lens that one day may connect with others. With the limitation of existing in a place or places, I could still write stories that reflect the transient time of ours where the inward unpacking could start. I then started collecting and interviewing friends and strangers who are also living with parallel identities for various reasons.
Like many others who relocate, the decision to move to Germany in 2016 was born out of a set of complicated circumstances. Although followed a ‘life as research’ process to explore the subjects I envisioned for KUA and for the stories I intend to write, I continuously felt out-of-my-depth in developing a publication as a curatorial project. I questioned whether was overwriting or appropriating other people’s life stories for a self-serving art project. Furthermore, being aware of my relatively privileged positioning within the definition of a migrant, I hesitated to produce any content that might be alienating even within its intended transnational demography. One day, came across a story on social media about a friend’s acquaintance— a photographer, who had passed away unexpectedly. Their last conversation was about his loneliness and resentment of having to part with his family and return to a birth country he was estranged from years ago. It was around Christmas 2020 that realised that the publication of KUA will not be just for myself, but for them and others alike.
hope that the first edition of KUA: Re-Integration will come into the hands of individuals who might be experiencing isolation because of the endless parting and integration. I hope that the fiction and real life stories, artwork, conversations and tools included in it give a sense of connectivity and relief for estranged ones. The motivation for KUA is not to challenge borders or restore human movement justice. Rather, I wish to lay down an abstract space like a safety valve for the dislocated. The series of publications will continue to investigate further topics through transnationalist perspectives: routes to imagination that are only born out of the complex paths that led to where we are.Yu’an Huang, March 2022 © Doug Aitken
… to any once removed person in the world, living with parallel identities.
A man takes a sip of the wine, he frowns a little and whispers ‘urgh’.
‘It doesn’t look like you are enjoying it, huh?’ A woman sitting at the corner of the bar comments and smiles. Her sandy blonde hair is draped over her shoulders. Icy blue eyes glimmer in the dimmed, stale light. He looks at her for longer than a second and tries to remember when was the last time he met someone with such a pale complexion. Pale in the way that the darkest colour on her face is the shadow of her hair. Eyes so light that you’d wonder if they are really for seeing, not just to be looked at.
The small bar seats around twenty people. The intimate space is covered with reclaimed or naturally worn out wood that, if the lights were turned up, would probably look a bit filthy. Music is low enough that you hear other guests but not their conversations. It’s the kind of place you’d comfortably sit alone with a drink and your thoughts.
‘It’s not too bad, just not what I’m used to,’ he replies. ‘Compared to wine from the future?’ she asks, with a hint of excitement.
‘Ah!’ he chuckles, looking away from her face. Another person who knows his story from somewhere, some interviews he had on radio or TV.
‘You are that guy, right?’ She tilts her body towards him.
‘Well, I am not from there, I just lived there for ten years. I was born here, thirty years ago, like, not in the future.’ He explains with hand gestures separating ‘here’ and ‘there’, hoping she’d understand the difference. Although obvious to him, sometimes he has moments of doubt if it even matters to explain the differences, especially after repeating the story countless times.
‘Yes, I heard about you on the radio. You fell into the future when you were fifteen.’ She inches her body even closer after his confirmation and settles into their interaction.
‘Must be strange being back? Do you miss it?’
‘Yes, but I’m growing to love it here. Rediscovering myself a lot really.’
‘Would you like to go back?’
‘I don’t really have a choice. If I knew a way, sure I’d like to visit all my friends. But I am trying to commit myself to this life in the here and now.’ He pauses and readjusts the tone, searching for some words to claim the pace in this conversation ‘It’s an interesting journey actually. I also find people, especially women, are much more, hmm, organic here.’
‘Really?’ The blonde woman fiddled with her hair and pushed it from one side to another. ‘I’d love to experience the future. I mean, dating must be very different there. Don’t we look so—old-fashioned to you?’
There it is, the same sequence of questions and comments that come at him whenever he meets anyone new. When he first fell back, he thought hard about those questions. Yes, it is very strange to be back and yes, he misses his life terribly. He also has many questions for himself. Soon he realised maybe people don’t really want to know what he thinks, they simply want to establish a connection. If those questions were seeking any answers at all, they are often after a confirmation— whether they would be suited in the future themselves that he is how theyexpected.
The questions started to feel like a constant test. Over time, he developed a set of standard answers for them. Something simple enough for people to comprehend and pleasant enough about the current time so he doesn’t come across as arrogant. He watches himself giving speeches on autopilot mode while trying to keep track of what he’s asking himself inside: Is it nice to be back? What would I have been doing now if I had not been to the future? And without friends around to anchor him he’s not sure if he’s drifting away from the reflective person he was once known for being, or indeed if those questions have a place in the world at all.
He only knows so well what the next question from her would be—
‘What’s the biggest difference in the future?’ Just as he guessed. The vaguest question of them all. He looks at her, wondering what she is really asking … He needs to come up with something that would help him figure out what he would like from her or from this evening. Perhaps tonight he’d be the one who’s doing the testing in this encounter.
‘Money and credit’ He said.
‘Credit as in mortgage?’
‘More like given credit based on the basic right to consume anything.’
‘Like communism!’ She interrupted quickly with the first –ism word that came into her head. This is what people do. When a new idea is presented, they reply too soon with big words. They don’t listen, afraid of being seen as not knowledgeable, and he knows this especially happens when they are trying to impress the speaker.
‘Well, in the future, every person lives on credits, which cover basic needs. Money is a separate system. You can make money. The two systems aren’t interchangeable but they influence each other.’
‘Oh, so you and I would have the same credit to live on. That sounds pretty communist to me.’
‘Not exactly.’ He leans forward and uses one of his hands to help him think, pushing further clarifications. ‘The credit system is calculated by various factors, societal and individual ones. The allowance fluctuates based on the public demands of certain needs and your social connectivity. And the key factor to the system is that the more money you have, the greater value your credit is.’ He speaks with both hands and eye contact at this point, checking if she’s still following. She stares back.
‘For example, say you have a lot of money, which is parallel to the credit system, right? When you check out at a food yard, the credit consumed for your grocery would be less than someone who has no money. Or friends who has no money’
‘ … Hmpf, so who decides on the change?’
‘A calculation system.’
‘Run by the government?’
‘No, on its own. The system takes information of productivities of resources as well as feedback from humanitarian theorists into account. It’s a huge network of analysed data. For example, if, for some reason, the supply of wine being produced plummets while demand is high, it would cost more credit for all of us to drink. But differ individually based on how much money you have.’
‘Okay …’ She seemed puzzled. Unsure if the ‘system’ means an algorithm and if she’s supposed to ask that. ‘So, no one needs to work then?’ The question that came
pp. 5–8, 45–48. KUA story 1/6 acts as the intro and extro of the publication and the world of KUA.
pp. 10, 20, 36. Life stories with interewees with lived experiences of Re-Integration. Scan the QR code to access the full conversations online.
pp. 11, 17, 21, 35, 37. Key existing works.
pp. 12–14, 18–19, 22–29, 33. Commissioned works.
‘It was the little things that allowed me to establish a link to a certain place. And since the pandemic, it’s created the sense of a need to choose where to be. Now moving back, losing that daily connection to the part of me I developed as an adult is something I worry about.’—Jacqui
Identity negotiation theory is an idea that who you are is agreed by one’s relationship to eight key areas. On the occasion of returning to one’s f irst culture, the pre-existing agreement may be outdated because of the f irst culture’s development during one’s absence or one’s personal development elsewhere. This could result in a lengthy process of negotiation. Take facework identity as an example, this refers to def ining oneself through social etiquette or ways of showing respect such as paying for others meal, which differ greatly between cultures, social classes and communities. When a returnee is expected to understand the invisible ‘common sense’ and fails to meet their standards, it could disrupt trusting interpersonal relationships from forming. In some cases, certain acts of facework may not be in alliance to the individual’s morals after period of inf luence of the alternative value system, thus actively refusing to perform so.
The graph was codesigned by Yu’an Huang and Jeanne Constantin to illustrate the theory of identity negotiation through a circular loop that signif ies the ceaseless negotiation process that a transnational individual might experience.
SYMBOLIC INTERACTION IDENTITIES
‘I need to be okay with just being a transient ... like a spirit f loating and don’t have a chamber for you. I’m okay with home morphing into f inding these pockets of joy, comfort with people who make you feel like you’re seen without needing to explain. What is alienating is constantly having to prove yourself, to integrate ...’—Kathleen
Dr Mazzucato’s research focuses on both sides of a migrant’s everyday exchange: the side one is moving from and the side one is moving to. Her approach values the migrant’s viewpoint of the narrative and by doing so reevaluates migrant studies, which are traditionally carried out from the ‘host country’ perspective. The importance of understanding the full transnational social f ield depicts a f luid state of being a host and a guest simultaneously in each transnational individual.
In this paper, Dr Mazzucato looks into the youths visiting their or their parents’ f irst culture and highlights the different social and economical positioning that different contexts situates them in. This is not a study on culture comparison. Instead, we are granted some access to the ‘meaning making’ and ‘identity forming’ of a transnational youth.
Getting hair braided in Germany
Pre-departure: ‘This is just something for 2 or 3 days. When I’m in Ghana, I’ll change my hairstyle. I don’t want to look ugly when I arrive in Ghana’
DURING ‘HOME’ VISITSBY VALENTINA MAZZUCATO (MAASTRICHT UNIVERSITY, THE NETHERLANDS)
It is quite common for young people who have a migration background to travel now and again to their or their parents’ home country. About a decade ago, when such travels became the topic of academic investigation, it was thought that they would diminish over the generations. That is, the children of migrants would be less interested and engage less in such travels than young people who had migrated themselves. This thinking was driven by integration or assimilation theories that pointed out that as time passes, migrants will increasingly integrate into their residence country context. Yet subsequent migration scholarship that developed a transnational perspective showed that integration into a country of residence does not necessarily mean cutting off ties with a ‘home’ country. Most of this research though, focused on adults and predominantly those who migrated themselves.
Very recently though, scholars have systematically studied the frequency and nature of trips to a ‘homeland’ made by young people with a migration background and found that travels are not only frequent but they do not diminish over the generations. In fact, young people who were born in the country where their parents migrated to, traveled more frequently to their parents’ home country than young people who migrated themselves (Mazzucato & Haagsman 2022). Such travels take place for many different reasons, from ‘roots’ tourism to education, from vacation and family visits to engaging in development projects and volunteering.
But what transpires on these trips and with what effects on young people’s lives? Early works emphasized notions of identity and belonging. They found that people went to a ‘homeland’ with particular expectations, sometimes from memories they had of the country and other times from stories they received from their parents. These expectations were often not met (King et al. 2018). Young people felt different from those who had not migrated and estranged from local customs. This created a feeling of rootlessness or being in limbo: not quite here and not quite there. While such experiences are certainly widespread, they are not the only experiences that young people have. One problem with early studies
EARLY WORKS EMPHASIZED NOTIONS OF IDENTITY AND BELONGING ... FROM MEMORIES THEY HAD OF THE COUNTRY AND OTHER TIMES FROM STORIES THEY RECEIVED FROM THEIR PARENTS. THESE EXPECTATIONS WERE OFTEN NOT MET ... THIS CREATED A FEELING OF ROOTLESSNESS OR BEING IN LIMBO: NOT QUITE HERE AND NOT QUITE THERE—[BUT] THEY ARE NOT THE ONLY EXPERIENCES THAT YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE.
on this topic is the methodologies they use: they mainly rely on interviews with adults who recall their experiences as young people. Memory is selective especially as events are further away and an adult gaze is different from a young person’s gaze. This called for studies that use a youth-centric perspective by asking young people about their own stories, and preferably where the researcher accompanies the young people during their travels (Mazzucato et al. 2022).
Accompanying young people on travels allows perceiving the embodied nature of travels. As anyone who travels knows, travels are sensorial: our bodies ‘make sense’ of the experience through our senses (Urry 2002). Temperature, weather, smells, sounds, ways of engaging with each other, the way the food tastes, atmospheres created by the built environment, the natural habitat—these are just some examples of the way we sense an environment which in turn shapes the way travels are perceived and the effects they have on our lives.
Recent studies have adopted this approach and they tell a different story from that which is often heard: the rootlessness engendered by travels home. Here I focus on studies from the MO-TRAYL project (www.motrayl.com) of young Ghanaian-background youth who live in European cities and engage in travels to Ghana, for example, for vacations at Christmas or during the summer school holidays. Most of these young people were in high school during the research period (2018-2020) and started to engage in travel independent of their families, either because they travelled alone to Ghana, or because while in Ghana, they could spend some time separate from their parents or other adult carers. Five types of experiences during such travels enabled young people to develop their own relationship to their ‘home’ country that is independent of that of their parents or other adults.
being confronted with the local living conditions of people who did not have it as good as they did, made young people re-evaluate their own situation in the residence country. Before traveling, they may have felt that their conditions in the residence country were not as good as young people without a migration background. Some young people lived in working-class neighborhoods and did not attend the best schools. Yet, comparing themselves to their peers in Ghana who did not migrate, shed a different light on their situations in the residence country (van Geel & Mazzucato 2021).
... OUR BODIES ‘MAKE SENSE’ OF THE EXPERIENCE THROUGH OUR SENSES. TEMPERATURE, SMELLS, SOUNDS, WAYS OF ENGAGING WITH EACH OTHER, THE WAY THE FOOD TASTES, ATMOSPHERES CREATED BY THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT, THE NATURAL HABITAT —WHICH IN TURN SHAPES THE WAY TRAVELS ARE PERCEIVED AND THE EFFECTS THEY HAVE ON OUR LIVES.
Ella (19 years old, living in Germany) explained after her most recent trip to Ghana:
‘I realise my friends in Ghana are all in the uni [or] in apprenticeships, doing something that they are going to benefit from. […] They are lacking a lot of things there, [but] even with the little they have, they are trying to get something great out of it. […] And if I have something great, I should make something greater out of it.’
LUXURY SPACES—hardly ever had the young research participants of Ghanaian background had the chance to experience luxury spaces such as highend hotels with swimming pools, renowned night clubs, luxurious shopping malls, expensive pop concerts and the like in the European cities where they lived. But travels to Ghana allowed them to inhabit such spaces (Akom Ankobrey, forthcoming). These different experiences in the two locations had various reasons. Parents often kept young people under tight surveillance in the countries where they reside due to the parents’ perceptions that young people of color run certain risks in public spaces. Also, many of the neighborhoods where young people lived in European cities, simply did not have such luxury spaces. And finally, because parents felt they knew and trusted their home country Ghana, they loosened the reigns on their children a bit and allowed young people to go out with their home-grown peers. Furthermore, even though Accra, Ghana’s capital city, can be quite expensive, some of these spaces are not as expensive as their European counterparts. Inhabiting such luxury spaces changes one’s perception of oneself, making one feel that one can also belong in such spaces.
THESE FIVE TYPES OF EXPERIENCES ... PROVIDED OCCASIONS FOR SELF-REFLECTION, TO DEVELOP THEIR INTER-CULTURAL COMPETENCIES AND BROADEN THE WAY THEY THINK ABOUT THEIR FUTURES AND THEIR ROLES IN THE WORLD.
Emma (19 years old, living in The Netherlands) described her going out routine in Accra:
‘Bloombar [popular lounge bar in Accra] is covered with lights, it’s new. It really gives you an American vibe. It was so fun with the two of us. Two ladies from Amsterdam later joined us […]. We [also] went to a restaurant in Cantonments [an affluent suburb in Accra]. So amazing but so expensive!’
CULTURAL ROOTS—travels home also entailed visiting important historical sites, such as the Kwame Nkrumah memorial, commemorating Ghana’s first president and internationally acclaimed leader, the Akosombo Dam, one of Ghana’s great waterworks, and the Asantehene’s palace, the marker of the Ashanti kingdom, to which many Ghanaian migrants trace their roots. This instilled a sense of pride in young people to know where their roots come from and to be associated with successful people, imposing engineering projects or royalty. This was in stark contrast with how they were often addressed as ‘Africans’ in the countries where they lived, having to withstand comments or ignorant questions that homogenized the content to simple images of poverty and hunger (van Geel & Mazzucato 2021).
ROLE MODELS—sometimes during such trips, young people experienced for the first time that they were able to look up to people coming from their same culture. People of Ghanaian background do not generally occupy prestigious positions in the societies where these young people lived in Europe. Yet in Ghana they are everywhere.
Rebecca (22 years old, living in Belgium) recounts her first trip to Ghana when she was a teenager traveling with her parents and first heard of the Queen Mother of the Ashanti: ‘It all started with my first trip to Ghana. My father brought us to museums, national parks and so forth. In Kumasi you have a museum that tells you everything about Yaa Asantewaa. And how he [the guide] told the story about her was really interesting […] I thought ‘wow, what a story’ […] and it really stuck with me. So when we were told that we have to represent our regions [for a community education project in Belgium], I immediately thought of Yaa Asantewaa, a very strong woman. And I can’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t want to be like her.’
AND TECHNOLOGIES—before, during and after trips, social media platforms such as WhatsApp or Snapchat were important for young people to establish new contacts, revive pre-existing ones and to maintain them once they would return to their country of residence. Such contacts were mainly with other young people, living in Ghana but also Ghanaians living in the diaspora, including those visiting Ghana at the same time and those around the world with whom young people shared their travels digitally. This enabled young people to create their own social networks, independent of their parents or
other adults. Technologies facilitated this process. New apps, such as the ride-hailing service Uber or the multimedia messaging app Snapchat that both allow young people to save, share and follow their location on a map, created ways for young people to navigate a mega-city like Accra that they did not know so well. This created a feeling of being familiar with an unfamiliar space, that is, a feeling of everydayness in the extraordinary (Anschütz 2022).
Nana (27 years old, living in Belgium) explained how social media allowed her to forge new networks: ‘To be honest, the people I grew up with, when I go back to Ghana, I don’t see them. So if it is not thanks to that network that I have been able to build myself, […] then I don’t know anyone. So this new network that I built, I go to Ghana now and I’m like ‘hey, let’s hang out’ and I have someone. I am creating new friendships, new networks.’
These five types of experiences not only led to young people developing their own relationships to a ‘homeland’ but also led them to have greater self-confidence, develop self-knowledge and cultural pride regarding their roots. These created greater resilience in young people to face the at times discriminatory school systems they encountered in the country of residence (van Geel & Mazzucato 2021). More generally, these experiences provided occasions for self-reflection, to develop their intercultural competencies and broaden the way they think about their futures and their roles in the world. These all relate to global citizenship competencies that the World Economic Forum (2020) has identified as being in high demand in today’s job market.
The careful reader may be asking themself, are there no negative impacts of travels ‘home’? There were times when young people felt estranged from the norms they encountered especially pertaining to gender and relations between the generations. Due to this, some also experienced clashes with elderly people who admonished them for being disrespectful or who tried to control their movements and whereabouts. This sometimes led to relationships cooling rather than becoming more intense. Yet such negative experiences were never the only experiences. Travels consisted of many different types of experiences, with different people and in different spaces within the same trip (Ogden & Mazzucato 2021), as accompanying young people during their travels revealed. Furthermore, negative experiences entail learning moments for young people. Rather than detach themselves completely, they sought to develop their own way of engaging with a ‘homeland’.
Akom Ankobrey, G. (forthcoming) Following the ‘hype’: the role of leisure practices during ‘homeland’ visits in transnational youth’s way of relating to Ghana.
Anschütz, S. (2022) Extraordinary everydayness: young people’s affective engagements with the country of origin through digital media and transnational mobility. Global Networks
Geel, van J. and V. Mazzucato (2021) Building educational resilience through transnational mobility trajectories: Young people between Ghana and The Netherlands. Young 29(2): 119-136.
Mazzucato, V. and K. Haagsman (2022) Transnational youth mobility: new categories for migrant youth research. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Ogden, L. J. and V. Mazzucato (2021) Changing relationships to the country of origin through transnational mobility: Migrant youth’s visits to Ghana. Mobilities
Urry, J. (2002) Mobility and Proximity. Sociology 36(2): 255-274.
World Economics Forum. (2020). The Future of Jobs Report. Retrieved from http://www3.weforum.org/ docs/WEF_Future_of_Jobs_2020.pdf
(Huit) last consonant of the Korean alphabet
Ω (Omega) last letter of the Greek alphabet
A (Alpha) first letter of the Greek alphabet (Kiuk) first consonant of the Korean alphabet
The designer attempts to reflect, connect, double the journey and assist the understanding of the two alphabet systems with this visual aid that reflects on his dual cultural experiences.
Years of constantly transiting between places, friendship groups and homes, the promise of continuous communication by technological advancements seems to make much of our head space muddy. Especially when challenging life events occur, the projection of the ‘other home’ or the ‘happier self’ elsewhere could be taking our attention away from the given present.
This page is dedicated to sharing a practice I developed, where I started writing to myself or to the city at the point of departure. The method is an experimentation to see if the practice allows me to unload a degree of unresolved matters when I leave and to tune in to the next place I’m landing more smoothly. Similar to ‘note to self’ diary, though perhaps more personal, a letter that concludes who I am, what has happened during the period of residency and my relationship with that place.
1. Before your move, write a letter to the place you are about to leave. or
2. Imagine you’re about to meet the version of you since you left ‘home’. Address yourself in a letter and describe who you think that person is.
3. You can post the letter to:
Asymmetry Art Foundation
Studio 1, 102a Albion Drive
London E8 4LY
Or keep it for yourself until you return.
(your name, year left)
Terminologies such as migrant, expat, refugees or international students are one’s legal status. However they are also loaded with implication of one’s committed value and role in a society they also often inf luence a labelled individual’s outlook in life and the ‘allowed path’. A graph from Dr. Triandafyllidou’s study provides the total map? of a transnational individual’s societal prospects. The graph co-design by Yu’an and Jeanne aims to show the scoop of differences and the f luidity state of a transnational individual.
TRIANDAFYLLIDOU, Anna, GROPAS, Ruby, ISAAKYAN, Irina, Transnational mobility and migrant integration, Global Governance Programme, ITHACA Policy Brief, 2015, [Cultural Pluralism]–http://hdl.handle.net/1814/37984
Retrieved from Cadmus, EUI Research Repository
*** HOMELAND INVESTOR
** PREPARING FOR RETURN
* RETURNING FAMILY (WO)MAN
*** GLOBAL BUSINESSPERSON
** RESOURCE MOBILISER
* SECOND CHANCE SEEKER
*** GLOBAL CITIZEN
** HOMELAND REFORMER
* NOSTALGIC CULTURE WORKER
‘I’ve become comfortable with the fact that I don’t have to f it in everywhere. It’s about taking responsibility for the answer to the question: who am I? And knowing that I can shape those answers by taking the best from both worlds. But I won’t pretend it hasn’t been a long journey.’
‘Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience. This approach challenges canonical ways of doing research and representing others and treats research as a political, socially-just and socially-conscious act. A researcher uses tenets of autobiography and ethnography to do and write autoethnography. Thus, as a method, autoethnography is both process and product’.
Carolyn Ellis, Tony E. Adams & Arthur P. Bochner, Autoethnography: An Overview (2011).
Full publication available on Forum: Qualitative Social Research online. It is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.
MAY 2022, WRITING WORKSHOP AT CHISENHALE GALLERY
A small group of participants will be introduced to the practice of autoethnography and the KUA fiction story Part One included in the first issue of KUA (pages 5–8; 45–48). The group will be invited to engage with the fiction by sharing their responses and to produce a short story independently or in continuation from the KUA fiction.
Submit your writing following the workshop brief to email@example.com with subject: KUA fiction story (Your name)
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NEW MEDIA BIBLIOGRAPHY
Evans, E 2020, Motherland, https://vimeo.com/540630979
Sudan Archives, 2019, ‘Confessions.’ Athena, Stones Throw Records, 2. http://sthrow. com/athena
Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky, Mosfilm, 1982.
La Planète sauvage, René Laloux, Les Films Armorial & Ceskoslovenský Filmexport, 1973.
Marco, Saleem Haddad, independent production, 2019.
The Migration Podcast, 2020–, Rotterdam, IMISCOE Network. https://soundcloud.com/ themigrationpodcast
Wood, J. 2014, ‘On not going home’ [Audio essay] London Review of Books. https:// www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v36/n04/james-wood/ on-not-going-home
Selasi, T 2015, ‘Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m a local,’ TED https://www.ted.com/ talks/taiye_selasi_don_t_ask_where_i_m_from_ask_ where_i_m_a_local?language=en
LARA LYNN BACLIG (PH/CH/UK) IS THE COPY EDITOR AND SOCIAL MEDIA WRITER FOR KUA.
She is a London-based writer and researcher raised in Switzerland of Filipino heritage. As an Ancient History graduate, her dissertation analysed gender constructs and eastern ‘foreignness’ in Ancient Greek society through Euripides’ play Medea. Her design project was published in the U+ zine in 2021, speculating an alternative feminist history through reimagined objects that draws from Sappho’s Archaic poetry. She is a writer for Asian Contemporary Art, where she is creating connections with artists, writers and curators. Her current research explores a post-colonial Filipino landscape through the lens of mythology and historical objects to create a new visual language.
JEANNE CONSTANTIN (CH/UK) DESIGNED THE FIRST KUA PUBLICATION.
She is an artist and graphic designer based in London of Swiss and French heritage. While completing a Master of Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art, she developed an art and design practice around the notions of paradox and logics of the natural world, the function of human behaviour and their environment and the language around their fictional common stories. She is also interested in community-based art workshops. She is a member of Evening Class collective and recently exhibited at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, 2021. >>> www.jeanneconstantin.com
YU’AN HUANG (TW/DE/UK) IS THE KEY DRIVER BEHIND KUA.
She lives and works as an independent curator in London, Berlin and Taipei. She curates situations often presented in the form of happening, consultation or event. Her curatorial projects have been shown at The Guardian’s Hall, London (2012), Hackney WickED Art Festival, London (2013), The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung (2015) among others. In 2018, she founded LOA Gallery in London. >>> www.yuanhuang.co
MARWAN KAABOUR (LB/UK) BROUGHT THE VISUAL IDENTITY OF KUA TO LIFE.
He is a London-based graphic designer and visual artist from Beirut. He first moved to the UK in 2011 to pursue a Masters degree. He became a British citizen in 2020, which has ultimately reshaped his relationship with Beirut, particularly in light of the social and economic collapse in Lebanon. He was a senior designer at Barnbrook until 2020, after which he set up his own design practice. His work is varied and includes designing the Phaidon Rihanna book to creating viral political posters. In 2019, he launched Takweer,
a platform that explores queer narratives in Arab history and popular culture. >>> www.marwankaabour.com
SASHA PERERA (UK/LK/SG/DE) CREATED THE SOUND IDENTITY FOR KUA.
Perera Elsewhere aka Sasha Perera is a London born musician, songwriter and DJ of Sri Lankan heritage. After studying European Politics and German, Perera found her voice as an artist in Berlin’s underground raves and DIY culture where she now lives. Sasha coined the phrase ‘We are removed people living with parallel identities’ in a conversation with Yu’an. She creates soundscapes in her songs, a hybrid of eerie blues and extra-terrestrial instruments that co-exist ‘elsewhere.’ Perera has worked with Robert Koch, Modeselektor, Nina Hagen and performs worldwide. Her third album ‘Home’ released in summer 2022. >>> www.pereraelsewhere.com
KENGWU YERLIKAYA (TW/UK)
is a multi-medium artist and actor born in Taiwan. His work is influenced by film study and the experience of military service in Taiwan as well as his migration process to the UK. He uses scripted monologue, film and found objects in his work and investigates macro social issues, such as minority human rights, gender policies, and global movements. In 2021, he was awarded residency at Taipei Artist Village where he presented a body of photographic work on the Southeast Asian migrant workers in Taiwan.
JOSHUA YANG (KOR/GR)
is a graphic designer specialising in typography. He was raised in Greece after his parents relocated from Korea as missionaries. Hehas moved back and forth between the two countries to maintain his Korean passport, complete studies in graphic design, and serve in the military. Since relocating to Athens in 2014, he volunteered for a Christian NGO focussed on refugees and worked on the visual identity for the National Library of Greece.
was born from the cross-cultural intimacy and artistic partnership of Marija Avramovic and Sam Twidale. Marija is of Serbian descent and studied painting and fine arts; Sam is British and studied music and has picked up programming. Drawing on their distinct practices and backgrounds they come together to create alternative worlds, digital or not, dystopian or utopian, not human-centred. They live and work in Paris. >>> www.xenoangel.com
DR VALENTINA MAZZUCATO (USA/IT/NL)
is a professor at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Born in Italy and raised in the US she continued to engage with her Italian heritage taking trips to visit family in Italy. As a result she never felt like a ‘first generation migrant youth’. Her expertise is on migration studied from a transnational perspective. In particular, she studies the effects of migration between Africa and Europe. Valentina is Professor of Globalisation & Development and she directs the research programme on Globalisation, Transnationalism and Development.
KATHLEEN BOMANI (TZ/US)
is a cultural curator, artist and self taught historian born in Tanzania. While pursuing higher education in the United States, she ran into visa problems that resulted in her illegal status for nine years. She is now in-between New York, Berlin and Dar es Salaam. Kathleen creates work rooted in cultural histories and archives, focusing on unrecorded histories like Africa’s involvement in WW1–WW1’s untold story: The forgotten African battlefields and many unknown facets of German colonialism.
is a London-born motivational speaker, author and leadership consultant of Nigerian heritage. He spent part of his childhood in Warri, Nigeria, and later returned to the UK for college and university. Passionate about personal mastery and personal-leadership, Obi is on a mission to inspire more leaders around the world to become purposedriven leaders, who not only inspire their communities, but in turn make our world a better place. >>> www.obiabuchi.com
JACQUI BARROWCLIFFE (UK/ES)
is a visual artist who has recently returned to the UK. She graduated in Fine Art in London and subsequently moved to Barcelona where she settled. After years working in other sectors, the sudden death of her husband led her to reevaluate her life and return to her artistic roots. She trained in Therapeutic Photography and Art Therapy and set up her creative practice. Working across various disciplines, but mainly photography and installation, her work focuses on process, transition and impermanence. Most recently she is experimenting with cyanotype to explore issues around climate change. She is currently associate artist in residence at Roca Umbert Arts Factory in Granollers (Barcelona) and works from her studio at the Old Parcels Office Artspace in Scarborough, UK. >>> www.jacquibarrowcliffe.com
WEI-YUN LIN-GÓRECKA (TW/UK/PL)
is a Taiwanese author and translator of Polish literature. After receiving a BA in Modern Drama Studies in London, she settled in Poland. In 2016 she moved back with her family to Taiwan, and she has since published five books on the topic of motherhood, homeland and in-between state. At the moment, she is completing an MA Taiwan Studies at the National Taipei University of Education, and is working on a book about the relation between Poland and Taiwan from the 17th century up to now.
KUA 02 DISPLACEMENT
The second publication will look into displaced animals, plants, bacteria, cryptocurrencies and waste caused by humankind. From the perspective of nature and technology, KUA 02 attempts to move away from the state definition of borders and reimagines co-existance in an alternative state of order.
Bianca Hlywa, THERMOLOOP APPLICATION (2022), Mixed media: SCOBY, tea, glass tank, automatic machine. Elsewhere, a thick, fleshy, wet mass sits flat in a giant petri dish in the corner of some whitewashed studio. Through art-making, Hlywa often investigates polarities present in cultural infrastructure: between life and non-life, the good and bad and the artificial and natural. The more pronounced examples exist in areas of abundance in resources and attention, like the cultural hubs of galleries or museums. Above image, courtesy of the artist.
Alasdair Asmussen Doyle, The other island (2019–)
The ongoing project documents colonies of wild Bennett Wallabies that inhabit the Anglo-Celtic Isles. Beyond the initial curiosity of Australian animals inhabiting a foreign landscape, the series of photography and video speak of an improbable transposition and the cultural, social and political dimension embedded in such colonies, drawing on the manner in which the natural world has been ordered, displayed, organised, and ultimately produced.
Complete the online form (http://shorturl.at/euLNS) or email your proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject: issue title_Your name
Publishing date, February 2023.
Reserve a copy on our big cartel shop. (http://kuacrossingbeyond.bigcartel.com/product/issue02displacement)
THE FIRST ISSUE IS GENEROUSLY SUPPORTED BY ASYMMETRY
ART FOUNDATION, CO-PRODUCED BY CHISENHALE GALLERY AND DELFINA FOUNDATION. YU’AN HUANG HELD THE ASYMMETRY CURATORIAL WRITING FELLOWSHIP OCTOBER 2021–MAY 2022.
ASYMMETRY ART FOUNDATION
Asymmetry is a London-based independent, non-profit foundation, dedicated to nurturing curatorial practice and disseminating knowledge about Chinese and Sinophone contemporary art. Through its support of academics, writers and curators from Greater China, and in partnership with leading UK and European institutions, the foundation promotes cultural exchange, pioneering research, collaboration, and production between arts practitioners, institutions, and audiences.
Nearly 40 year ago, Chisenhale Gallery was founded by artists in London’s East End. Its mission is to commission new works of art through supporting artists at every stage of project development, from concept to completion. As a non-profit organisation, Chisenhale Gallery champions the ambitious, the challenging and the innovative from living artists and collaborates locally, nationally and internationally to bring this work to wide audiences.
Founded in 2007, Delfina Foundation is an independent, non-profit foundation dedicated to facilitating artistic exchange and developing creative practice through residencies, partnerships and public programming. The foundation aims to forge collaborations to build shared platforms to incubate, to present and to discuss common practices and themes. Based in the heart of London, it is the largest provider of international residencies for artists, researchers, creative practitioners, and collectors.
We are continuously seeking support to produce KUA’s ongoing work. Donations received will finance future publications and events associated with KUA, as well as enable our participation in book fairs and staging public events.
For supporters who wish to be head funder or support the production of the next publication in other ways, please contact us at email@example.com. Thank you for supporting our vision and welcome to the KUA world.
Project curator / Editor
Hana K. Ohnewehr
Rebecca Morrill, Choya Hung
Identity and website designer
Website backend designer
Producer / production advisors
Gillean Dickies / Karl English, Seth Pimlott
Communication and Copy editors
Lara Baclig, George Houghton
Visual design advisors
Janice Chan, Marco Ugolini (objectif)
Sonia Lambert, Amina Jama, Nicolas Burman, Alison Chandler
Helena Morgen, Tom Morgen, Jannik Schmitz, Gavin Everall (Bookworks)
Printed in April 2022. Print run 250 Cassochrome, Waregem, Belgium.
KUA Logo design statement:
The base of the logo is set in a typeface called Afronaut, designed by Polish typographer Mateusz Machalski. The typeface was designed as a response to reading ‘Afronautics—from Zambia to the Moon’ by Bartek Sabela. The typeface looks like mix between vernacular Arabic scripts, futuristic, space travel inspired typography and some unique lettering that Mateusz found in Africa during his travels to Guinée, Bissau, Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania and West Sahara. The accent added on the letter U is not decorative. This accent, known as waw in Arabic, is added on top of letters to replicate the ‘oo’ sound, which is needed in KUA. The stylisation on the letter A is meant to reference Chinese lettering which was the working title of the project.
Marwan, January 2022.
Doug Aitken migration (empire), 2008
Still from single video projection with billboard (steel and PVC projection screen)
Duration: 24 minutes, 28 seconds
© Doug Aitken
Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich; Victoria Miro, London/Venice; and Regen Projects, Los Angeles
(11) Alberto Bougleux, Ten Hours from Home, 2015, Prod. EUI-ITHACA project. vimeo.com/129145209
(21) Vice Media Group, 41-year-old Adoptee Deported After 37 Years in the U.S. (HBO), 2017. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORAGvfeGrqc
(35) TRIANDAFYLLIDOU, Anna, GROPAS, Ruby, ISAAKYAN, Irina, Transnational mobility and migrant integration, Global Governance Programme, ITHACA Policy Brief, 2015, [Cultural Pluralism]–http://hdl.handle. net/1814/37984. Retrieved and reworked from Cadmus, EUI Research Repository.
KUA would like to thank those who have kindly given their permission for the reproduction of the materials for this book. Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders and to obtain their permission for the use of copyright material. We apologise for any errors or omissions in the above list and would be grateful if notified of any corrections that should be incorporated in future reprints or editions of this book.
Website >>> kua-crossingbeyond.com
Soundcloud >>> soundcloud.com/kua-crossingbeyond Digital download >>> issuu.com/kua-crossingbeyond Purchase future issues >>> kuacrossingbeyond.bigcartel.com
All inquiries >>> firstname.lastname@example.org
out with the best effort of trying to understand or trying to seem so.
To work for money in exchange for the basis to live seemed such a foreign idea to him. Well, perhaps not ‘foreign’, but a forgotten idea he had moved away from since he first fell into the future. He went through a few years studying the separate credit and money systems that the future runs on, intellectualising it so that he’d catch up with his peers functioning within that system before him. The non-tangibility and inconsistency of ‘value’ was taking great mental energy for him to navigate. He got used to it all eventually, but the discussion about credit and money is also a heated topic in the future, at least among his immediate friends and colleagues. It was almost impossible to opt-out from the system. Many looked to seize more control in other areas in life as the result of the accelerating alienation of individual assets. Some were sending their pets through education, some were studying the DNA of the Hindu gods. He often wondered about where it was all heading to—in the future of the future …
‘True, no one needs to work, but most people want to d—’
‘That’s not work!’ She laughed with a surprised face. People laugh when they feel things, amused or tickled, but this laugh is to fill the gaps for thinking. He laughs with her and gave up on the unfinished sentence. Perhaps the result of the test has surfaced, the test of what this interaction could result in.
‘Also, in the future, the sense of intimacy is extracted and could be activated by a device. It was one of the biggest breakthroughs of neuroscience in our time.’ He reaches for the wine, ‘It really gives orgasm a whole new meaning.’
A small one-room flat, stuff lying around with no logical order. Bedsheets, cooking pan, razors all mixed up in one room.
‘Whoa! This is not what I imagined the room of the future would look like.’ The two of them are back at his place. She seems a bit more than tipsy, entering the room with flirtatious body language and words that were becoming cheeky.
‘The architecture of now is fucked up. The living environment … having personal belongings is just stupid, totally distracting.’ He is drunk too. His filter seemed to have been dissolved. She laughs and puts her hand on his shoulder as they enter the chaotic-looking flat.
‘But we are not in the future now! Maybe in the future ‘who pays on a date’ won’t be a thing anymore.’ She gives him a kiss on the cheek, referring to earlier in the evening when she insisted on paying—but he took care of the bill at the end. ‘Thank you for the drinks. It seems so old-fashioned, old-fashionedly sweet of you.’
He walks to the kitchen and switches the fluorescence to a dimmed warm light. She follows but is stopped by the fridge door between them. Suddenly, he wasn’t sure why he took her home anymore. The constant comments about his
‘future-ness’ makes him unsure where to put his hand. It is as if he is expected to perform and impress her not only as a date but also as a tour guide of his world. He pours two glasses of wine and hopes to stay attracted to her. More accurately, to stay attracted to the idea of having sex. He shuts the fridge door while taking a large sip on the wine. His eyes take some seconds to get used to the room without the fridge light.
A group of six people were floating between each other and between different conversations. There was a big shared screen glowing on the wall, suggesting topics of conversation. He was talking about plants migration with two people sitting next to him, while typing about the worst credit drop on his personal tablet. Streams of conversation were popping onto the big shared screen with thematic chat rooms rotating, joined by people who were not physically in the room. Before the credit crash topic came up again, his eye stays on a woman with short curly dark hair across the room while he lays in another’s arms. Laughter, new information and physical contacts, the party was rich in all different senses and all needs were catered for. He was clear what he was looking for. He discreetly suggested a connection with the women across the room through his intimacy device, while touching the thighs of the woman behind him.
And then the apartment is empty and it is just him and the girl from the bar again. He has a craving to merge himself with the person in front of him, an abstract, aesthetic experience he might have seen in an old film: the simplicity of one-to-one engagement. He was hoping the woman in front of him could guide him through the forgotten analogue sexual experience—meditative, profound, infused with imagination, no distractions. He got close to her face and kissed her lightly. They exchanged breaths then paused for a moment, each still holding a glass of wine.
‘Is this the sort of futuristic intimacy you were talking about?’ she asked in a whisper, as though she was acting in an underwhelming vintage porn. He finishes the wine and asks where she lives. She looked offended and asks him to call her a cab.