Three Migrants in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Smuggler)

[2019], Petko Dourmana
The Artwork
Multimedia installation and performance

A performance installation set as a fictional trip of three migrants and a smuggler on a small rubber boat (dinghy) that is going upstream river Evros at night. Evros is a liquid portal into Greece and thus the European Union, flowing from Bulgaria to Greece and Turkey and is a perilous part of the main migrant smuggling routes. According to Greek sources, the river has the largest number of buried and unidentified migrants in Greece.

Based on sketches, dialogue and jokes from the popular comedy classic Three Men in a Boat (to Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K Jerome, the river Thames becomes river Evros, the 3 friends become desperate migrants, the dog becomes a smuggler, and the leisurely trip becomes a perilous fight for life in the dead of a pitch-dark night.

The artist performs as "the Smuggler", and up to 9 members of the audience equipped with night vision devices (NVDs) can observe the installation without being seen, surrounded by a panoramic video projection of Evros banks, set in infrared and perceived only through the gaze of the NVD wearing audience, who become performance border guards.

In the boat there is a place for actors, volunteers or audiences to perform and do performance-reading, to engage in honest confessions about their fears, or to debate about migration in the dark.
Gabrovo, Bulgaria
Petko Dourmana
Petko Dourmana is a media artist working with technology and new media as well as in the area of art and technology since 1996. His artistic and curatorial projects have been shown at many locations as ZKM Karlsruhe, Chelsea Art Museum and Location One in New York, Transmediale Berlin, ICA London and many others. Education: Art School for Industrial Design, Kazanlak, Sculpture at Academy for Fine Art in Sofia, PhD student in Interface Design at Veliko Tarnovo University. Founder and chairman of InterSpace Association and Foundation based in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Petko was part of the Borderline Offensive artistic residency in Leeuwarden, Netherlands in June 2018, part of the Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018 European Cultural Capital programme - from where the idea for Three Migrants in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Smuggler) was created.

Targeted audience(s)
12+, appropriate for young and adult audiences, but not for very young audiences;

Can be presented temporarily in a gallery, museum and experimental theatre, as well as in the programme of an art/tech festival.

Up to 9 audience members can enter and leave the installation without interruption, as their number is limited by available NVDs.
The installation requires a space that can be darkened completely – a gallery, a museum or theater, optimally 8 × 10 m2, and equipped with power plugs, ceiling projector(s) and white projection screens (or white walls).

All the NVD related-equipment is provided by the artist, and all the technical setup, video and audio editing for the installation are prepared preliminarily, together with a technician that travels with the artist.

2 days for installation, 1 for deinstallation.
The scene is set with a rubber dinghy, in an indoor space, with a big panoramic projection of the river banks around the scene, set in infrared, only perceived by someone wearing night vision devices (NVDs).

The artist performs daily for 90min. periods as the "Smuggler", and engages in interaction with audiences, in several possible ways: directing performance readings of the refugee comedy scenes by actors, volunteers or brave audience members, hosting public debates about migration in the dark, or listening to secret confessions of audience members about their irrational fears about the Other and the phenomenon of migration.
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