Survival Kit 11

Contemporary art festival Survival Kit 11: Being Safe is Scary

Curated by Katia Krupennikova

September 4th - October 4th, 2020

Terbatas street 75, Riga

Graphic design: Reflect

Being Safe is Scary takes its title from a site-specific piece created in 2017 by artist Banu Cennetoğlu for documenta 14. The phrase comes from graffiti on a wall of the National Technical University of Athens, noticed by Cennetoğlu around the time of the signing of the EU-Turkey refugee deal in March 2016. Violating international law on refugee protection, the contract forced every irregular entrant to Greece to be handed over to Turkey, causing reception facilities and temporary camps on the Greek islands to be turned into detention centers. By adopting this heavily charged title, this edition of Survival Kit connects itself to wider, ongoing discussions around security and political violence. 

The notions of safety and security are central to today’s political imagination. They are used to provide rationales for wars, nationalist agendas, racism and inequality, and to legitimize and normalize extensive surveillance and self-surveillance, aggression, hatred, insularity and other reactionary attitudes and policies. The politics of fear feeds upon precarity. Whole systems of domination are built upon the fierce illusion of protection, encouraging brutal competition and enforcing both financial and moral indebtedness.

It is usually the most marginalized members of society that are classified as threats: those stigmatized due to sexual identity, race, class, religion or gender. The figure of the migrant, as deployed in populist discourse, is one of the key phobic objects of our time. In addition, those who organize and participate in resistance against the status quo are often viewed by the state as security threats. If these people are threats, who are the endangered subjects that need protecting? And what are the real threats and dangers that are covered over and pacified by this construction of social dangers? 

This exhibition aims to explore why it’s urgent and necessary to transform the suppositions that undergird such discourse and calls for safety to be reconnected to practices of love, intimacy, sharing, commonality, mutual support, attention, care for each other and for the environment, and social alliances.

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