Managing Displacement: Deterrence and extraction
I am Danae Io, an artist from Greece based between Athens and Rotterdam. I work across video, sound, sculpture and text to explore how language can actively systematise and codify sociopolitical infrastructures. My work has been exhibited at Delfina Foundation and the ICA in London, UKS in Oslo, and Kunstverein, Amsterdam; screened at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam; and published by Sternberg Press and Contra Journal.
I am co-founder of System of Systems, a research project that analyses the intricate web of migration management within and beyond Europe’s borders. I started the project in 2016 with designer and academic, Rebecca Glyn-Blanco, and architecture curator and lecturer, Maria McLintock. Rebecca teaches design at Goldsmiths University, and Maria has curated at the MoMA, NYC and the Design Museum, London, and teaches at Central Saint Martins.
Our project is concerned with elucidating the ways that European leaders instrumentalise displaced peoples as a ‘crisis’ in need of deterrence. We commission a range of voices – artists to activists, architects to theorists – to examine the structural conditions and historical legacies that have enforced the notion of Europe as surrounded by a ‘fortress’. Central to our current research is the motivation to place our work within spatial politics, from the scale of the camp to that of the border, as well as the determination that migration is deeply entangled with histories of capitalism, colonialism and, central here, ecological dilapidation.
Our first book, System of Systems (2017), is an anthology examining the European asylum-seeking process with contributions from Lawrence Abu Hamdan, James Bridle, Ayesha Hameed, Daniela Ortiz and Nana Varveropoulou, among others. We have also curated an exhibition at Grace, Athens (2017) and curated research programmes for Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam (2019/2020); Arts Catalyst, London (2020); and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Athens (2020).
'Managing Displacement: Deterrence and extraction' is a publication that explores the role of spatial politics and ecological dilapidation in how migration is managed within and beyond Europe’s borders.
Those seeking asylum within the social, political and economic imaginaries of Europe are met with an increasingly hostile frontier. The very notion of Europe – freedom of movement for some and immense restriction for others – is upheld through austere migration policy, influencing many aspects of political life on the continent. Resource extraction and ecological collapse are central forces in shaping migratory flows, yet go vastly overlooked in this context. While the planet is experiencing irreversible damage, there is currently no policy that recognises the existence of ‘climate refugees.’ In light of this, this publication commissions four spatial voices to demonstrate how this issue emerged, as well as the ways extraction amplifies the forced displacement of communities.
As spatial practitioners, central to our approach is the position that this violent context manifests at the scale of the architectural and the urban. As borders scholar Reece Jones posits in Violent Borders: "The place-based version of history is not natural and eternal; it is a technology of governance akin to a wall, a property deed, and a border guard that legitimises the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and protects the privileges that have accrued through the enclosure of land and resources." We are committed to elucidating the relationships between space, extractive histories and displacement.
We are applying to this fellowship with a publication, part of our new 'Managing Displacement' series. This publication will be finalised by June 2024 and is funded by Stimuleringsfonds. Our project would hugely benefit from the opportunity of this LINA Fellowship, enabling us to share our ideas at a crucial stage with an international community of spatial practitioners.