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Narratives of a migrant-owned creative practice

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Audio: "Human" by Rag'n'Bone Man used as MOH (Music on Hold) by EasyJet airlines, recorded 28 February 2018

When I was unable to join my class — author’s note: I could not join this trip because I was still waiting for my visa — to London I felt strangely disconnected from the group – for the first time since the beginning of my studies it was me and them. It was the time to accept the fact that despite using the same devices and dressing similarly, I am in a different position. From an email to a friend from 12 March 2018

What I find interesting that tensions such as — authors note: facing — boundaries,— authors note: experiencing — limitations of citizenship or status are only visible when the tension becomes a conflict. 

… And then, back into my routine, I see people surprised to learn they cannot give me a part-time contract due to some law they never had to read. In one of the podcasts, I'm listening to the host was talking about the visibility/invisibility of an effort and used ballet as an example of the art which goal is to make effort look effortless. I do not work as hard as a ballerina, but somehow I can relate. 

 From an email to a friend from 12 March 2018

Video: Aya sato workshop 2014 5 4, by HIRASAWA IZUMI, uploaded 6 April 2014,


Creating a world to hack it

Exhausted by all the efforts to establish my practice within the limitations of citizenship, I am taking control over the exhaustion by becoming its driving force. I study the terms and conditions of being a non-EU citizen and an owner of a creative practice in the EU. Considering the limitations of citizenship not being set in stone but more of a fluid matter, I look at the points where the fluid matter becomes thin and runny enough for me to enter it. In my research, I would like to draft the technology I am calling the Brutal User.

Brutal User is a person whose professional practice depends on their citizenship status and therefore who’s life (as a professional and as a natural person) is defined by the combination of employment and immigration law of the country they are residing. The initial position of a Brutal User is not the one of the User, but the one of the Reader: being presented with the complex of text, which regulates their existence, but not being given the sense of ownership of their case. The brutality is in the transformation.

It hurts to immerse oneself in everything which takes the joy out of being an autonomous creative professional, but this is the only way to attempt to establish the realistic sense of autonomy. The constant search for definitions and the need to validate yourself in the country’s economy calls for designing a very own set of constraints and for gaining negotiation skills. Brutal User looks at the paperwork defining their life as a source material to build their own definitions upon and to validate themselves in the eyes of the state, possibly entering the process of lawmaking.

Physical body / Legal person

Image:King of All Black, posted on December 16, 2012 by Shannon Larratt, Creating a new identity – getting a new ID – bodysuit tattoo. Both take many years to complete, require commitment and permanently change the owner's life.


How I am going to become a Brutal User? Who are my allies? How do I establish the position of power within the constraints of citizenship and the limitations of the labor market?

How, as a creative practice, I bring to life my own system of values, which is recognized both by my professional field and by the Law?

Entering the Ambitious World

In 2013, minister of economic affairs wrote a letter (link) to the government. This letter preceded the creation of a startup visa in 2014. This letter is particularly interesting because he defines what innovation is, what ambition is ?, and what kind of startup facilitators are to be created. He also notes that it is in the Dutch interest that foreign students could stay after graduation. Probably that is still very much at work if your study is in the top sector.

What fascinates me is that this letter actually creates a loop: 1. The government defines what innovation is ? 2. Facilitators are created 3. They host projects which fit the profile from point one 4. Projects with bigger risks ? or from a non-top sector are unable ? to enter the loop. What is also interesting is that you have to establish, facilitate and fund your business as a company, but once the visa is approved it only lasts for a year and is nonrenewable. Then you have to reapply as a self-employed person ?, with different income requirements coming into action, and to score again on the point system. Let’s say after a year the company didn’t reach the financial stability and investors left – that means that as a founder I will not have sufficient income ? to continue my residency. So, in that scenario, it is possible that the company continues to exist without me...From an email to a friend from 2 April 2018

In my writing I am mentioning only writing since this website is based on the outline of my future essay. Here I would like to specify that the subjects I mention are my research subjects in general. In writing, in visuals, in work and in life. I am going to research the following terms: Ambition, enterpreneurship and innovation. — author’s note: probably there will be few more terms introduced later — All of them are used in the legal world to argue the value of a migrant-owned business in a Dutch society. Coming from the pre-defined top sector, some companies define what it means to be innovative and what it means to be an entrepreneur. It is my goal to work towards a practice which combines design and legal work and is developing methods to argue these definitions.

Looking at vagueness of these terms and their definitions I aim to employ this vagueness as a tool for validation of practices which are outside of the top sector. What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? Is it about finding funds and facilitators, or about taking the risk to build something in the field which is considered non-ambitious in terms of profit? Or both? Through researching lawmaking I want to challenge the idea of a creative practice (and its owner) as a surplus, a ballast. Looking into institutionalisation of abstract terms such as ambition I want to argue that non-EU creative practitioners should be perceived as the most ambitious, the elite: Coming from elitist institutions we manage to actually exist against the unwritten rules of our domain (such as building a portfolio out of unpaid assignments), which renders us non-ambitious in the view of the immigration law.


Reading my sources.

Ambitious Entrepreneurship, An agenda for start-ups and growing businesses, Henk Kamp, Ministry of Economic Affairs, 2013.


Reading my sources.


The Ethical Carnivore, Loise Gray, Bloomsbury Natural History, 2016.