Migrating Birds

The Time for Inter Action project ”Migrating Birds” in the multicultural housing area of Saturnus in the town of Skillingaryd, Sweden

by Jasmine Cederqvist, participating artist

On behalf of ReMida i Vaggeryds municipality, I´ve conducted a social art project called “Migrating Birds” in the multicultural housing area of ​​Saturnus in the town of Skillingaryd. Together with the residents of the housing area we made a permanent art work, a decoration on the facades of the three residential buildings of the Saturnus area.

The integration project  was funded by Leader Västra Småland. EU and Rural Policy. It is part of the larger, international cultural project “Time for Inter Action”, where Germany and Austria also participate. It is headed by Remida, but the municipal housing company VSBo was also involved, like the HVB home and the tenant association.

The neighborhood of Saturnus in Skillingaryd has a great mix of cultures from all over the world. It is, here that many of the single refugee children have come to live in a HVB home (home for care and housing). The right place to have an integration and art project on!

During two weeks in may, I and personel from ReMida, camped in the housing area of Saturnus. We invited everyone living in the area to join and create their own unique metal bird by decorating it with all-weather decorative colored film. The technique was chosen so that everyone, young as old, should be able to participate. It´s the same technique called ”painting with scissors” used by the french artist Henri Matisse.

The idea of the project theme ” Migrating Birds” was chosen for it´s symbolic value. Birds do not conform to any specific country and know no national borders. They are free to move wherever they want in order to find better living conditions. And also, it´s a nice idea that we all humans are part of a huge flock here on Earth, and so belong together. We reflected on why do birds migrate? Why do people move or become refugees? What is the difference between moving and fleeing?

Each metal bird became unique and a part of a context, a large flock, a whole. Just like we humans. Each one is unique and we all share in a common context, a wholeness.  A moment here on earth.

The project was designed to meet the following objectives; to choose a technique so that everyone, young and old etc should be able to participate, the artwork must be able to withstand outdoors, each one of the participants should be able to see his/her contribution of the whole, final art piece and be able to point it out, saying ”- Look, that´s my bird!”. By making a permanent decoration on the facades of the three residential buildings in the area each one could leave a permanent imprint, ” I was here!” Even if it may be for a short period. Like a ”touch and go” – just as birds do.

The idea of the project was not entirely to produce a finished art piece. The creative process was as equally important. To create a positive meeting place during the two week period in the residential area, where every one could hang out and meet and work with something creative while having an opportunity to mingle with their neighbors. There were those who have lived in the same residential area for several years and never spoke to each other, suddenly began to communicate when they came in the same creative situation on the back yard..!

All part are as equally important in order to create a large common social art work. The crown of it is that the art piece itself is a permanent decoration of their houses. The inhabitants have decorated their own living space!

Finally when all 180 birds were mounted on the tree housing facades by the municipal housing company VSBo, there was an opening ceremony of coffee, ice cream and talks.

This project gives me so much joy and human warmth. I have met so many wonderful people of different ages, generations and nationalities. Every one unique and amazing! To see the joy in their eyes, both during the creative process and the feeling that “I can!” But also of being in a community, a part of a wholeness.

This is clearly one of the most meaningful art projects I have done so far!

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