THE MOST FOREIGN LAND, I

Year: 2020 | Mix Media Self Portrait: photography, stitches, digital photo manipulation. 

Currently showing this work on https://qap.digital/wip/?artist=tugba-tirpan for #WIP exhibition.

Main Artist Statement:

‘The Most Foreign Land, I’ is a work in progress and it is the completed artwork. Consisting of three digital negative photographs, these chronological photos were taken as part of the creative process and were never meant to be exhibited. My personal migration history (and present) is tightly intertwined within these images. I eventually abandoned trying to compose the ‘ideal’ image envisaged in my mind. Instead, I embraced the process for what it is; imperfect but exuberant.

These images were taken on a makeshift backdrop, my bedsheets. They are out of focus, disproportionately framed and none are staged. The original print photographs were only a few among the many biometric photos I used for my multiple leave to remain permit renewals in the UK and my actors headshots I had taken during the same period.

‘The Most Foreign Land, I’ explores the multitude of identities, specifically the concept of a ‘foreign identity’ molded by the migration process. This piece entangles the creative process with the bureaucratic, revealing the emotional topography of an arcane experience along the way. Perhaps, it’s a map of the ecologies of identity.

Process Statement:

The process that has led to the creation of these images spans across thirteen years, starting in 2007 and ending in 2020. The early process of these works critically reflect on the bureaucratic nature of the Visa renewals and the naturalisation in the UK as well as the socio-cultural hardships of migration that do not end with the naturalisation. As the work evolves into its current shape, it embodies a wider context in which the systemic social pressure for constant achievement, perfection and perfecting is rejected.

A migrant is a process. A dismal process of self-optimisation for the state apparatus and the adopted society. Endless Visa applications, identity photos, confiscation of your passport for months on end, precarious work permits and the NRPF (no recourse to public funds) make up the reality of most NON-EU migrants. The notion of ‘borders’ starts to occupy everything. You are inside these borders but exiled to the peripheries of society. Most identities develop in a subtle way. The identity of the foreigner has a turbulent start. When a border is crossed, a new identity is externally forced upon the individual, most often in the form of a precarious legal status first. A desiccation of the legal agency (of the individual). This is a new identity. Foreigner’s identity is a foreign identity.

Tearing the first ID images into pieces was an act of revolt marking the end of a long journey with the Home Office in 2016. An imperfect representation of self that is always and forever marked by the stitches of migrancy. The three main images in the exhibition were originally my acting headshots and they represent the period after this long bureaucratic stage. They were torn into pieces during the first months of the lockdown and then stripped of colour and meaning by inverting to negative; highly visible yet unseen. They’re scattered, only temporarily and imperfectly restitched together, carrying forever the marks of having been torn apart. A map of the ecologies of identity.

Entangled with my personal migration trajectory and the pressures of the current capitalist mode of living; this long process found its resolution in the rejection of the perfect and the ideal artwork. Settling with the three imperfect images represented a decision to embrace the process in its imperfections rather than the progress in its assimilation. It embodied a liberation.