‘Hope today is a contraband passed from hand to hand and from story to story.’

John Berger, Bento’s Sketchbook, 2011

Bread and Salt tells the stories of 18 European artists who were born in other parts of the world. Those people have nothing in common except the practice of art and the experience of migration.

They are men and women, aged between under 30 to over 70. They came to Europe from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, India and East Asia, from cities, islands and deserts. They live today in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Denmark and the UK. They arrived as long ago as 1963 and as recently as 2005. They came as students, refugees and adventurers. They are musicians, sculptors, writers, actors, designers, photographers and more.

 

They have nothing in common, except the experience of moving from one home, one state, one culture, to Europe, where they have made new homes, art, families and reputations. They have overcome violence and detention, isolation and fear, poverty and hostility. They have remade their lives in courage, rewritten their stories in hope.

Abdoul, Aziz, Bill, Bright, Chien-Wei, Cleverson, Eduardo, Elina, Isabel, Maher, Kaoru, Mahmoud, Mizgin, Mohan, Said, Sardul, Seiko and Zeliha.

They have nothing in common, except their humanity—the common rights and particular gifts that makes each person, each citizen of the European Union, each human being equal before Law and God, whatever we take them to be.

Bread and Salt is an essay. Its methods are literary and artistic; its resources are listening and seeing, reading and thinking. It advances no thesis; it proposes no solutions.

Instead, it sets the irreducible particularity of actual lives against the self-serving simplifications now proliferating in the European public space. Demagogues of every stripe are busy shooting electricity through the butchered corpse of ideologies that some had hoped permanently buried after 1945. Monsters are twitching.

Clive, Colin (Frankenstein)_02Whatever challenges Europeans now face—and they are many and serious—hatred, fear and blame will never help us come through.

Bread and Salt will be published in Utrecht on 21 June 2013 and will be available to download from this site from that date. English and Dutch editions will also be available from Vrede van Utrecht.

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