Tea Vidović

Intro: Art as the micro level to critically question
the macro level of EU integration policy and practice
Borderline Offensive is a transnational community gathering of creators, academics, cultural producers and citizens wanting to explore how art and humour can contribute to improving lives in society in Europe and beyond. As such a platform, Borderline Offensive has organised, staged and produced different forms of tools aiming to provide the answers to the key questions:

• How do humour and art promote dialogue and reflection about migration, fear, pain, identity and social crisis?
• How do arts and culture influence integration positively, and how does integration work diversify audiences and artistic discourse?
• How do populism, xenophobia, and global cultural conflict impact arts and culture, freedom of expression and the mobility of creators?

This research book is one of the tools created that will help you to find the answers to the above questions. The research book offers a multidisciplinary view on the projects as it analyses the processes of the artistic creations and art residencies organised during the project. It gathered the artists, citizens, cultural producers and academics in one place - where each individual was immersed in the process of dialogue, creation and observation. Those who were observing (academics) gave us an insight into the process explaining the initial aim and the result that was achieved. Reading their analysis, you will be able to return to the time when the artwork was made or when the artist was trying to make it - and will get a sense of the complexity of the process and transformation that occurs when creation is in flow. The findings, the conclusion, the take-home messages offered in the reports are the starting point for our future discussions, advocacy and policy-making within the context of integration and intercultural dialogue.

When reading the reports, you will be able to observe the concept of integration on a small scale - a micro level: where you have the artists as the "practitioners" trying to create connections between people and discuss humour. The outcome of their work reflects that of their micro integration policy created at a certain time and space in the project. If we step off the micro level and observe it on the macro level - the conclusions are similar. You have the policy makers (the project idea), the practitioners (artists that implement the project idea), the people included/the society (participants in the project workshop) and the policy outcome (the project idea outcome).

Borderline Offensive used art as a social bridge to create integration practice and in doing so - it pointed to the most relevant questions of the EU's integration policy. Small groups that existed within a society at the beginning of the integration path can merge into a big group if concrete activities/policy plans/practices are put in place - to foster social integration. These activities/policy plans/practices need to be a mix of formal and informal approaches to create a sense of familiarity. Familiarity is important - amongst ourselves and with the context where we perform. To build a sense of familiarity, it is necessary to win sufficient support from the environment. It is a process concerning the whole of society and not only the new members of the society. In that process people can be challenged to step out of their comfort zone - and that challenge can bring results. But it must include the entire society: not only one part of it. Each new member brings something new to the context and the sense of familiarity changes as a result - so in order to understand this change every member needs to participate. The context/society/policy must not be restricted but flexible and open to social changes and temporality so that can easily be adapted to the needs as they arise.

One must be aware of society's failings. That is the beauty of social awareness. An artist, a policy maker, a new member of society, an old member of society - everyone can fail. It is necessary to have an awareness of this and to enter the process knowing that you will fail, and that every failure you make will bring a better society. The awareness of failure lies in the flexibility and fluidity with which we need to live. The question is how quickly can we adapt and react to the failure that we recognise?

Our societies and our identities are fluid. This is why we need humour. Humour and laughter can bring people together and can divide them. Humour is a connecter and a divider. Humour is our chance to recognise our failure. Embrace it as an intimate whisper of empathy. Humour not only has the strength to dehumanise but also change people for the better and question dominant positions of power.
Other articles:
Editing by Lola Joksimović and Tiago Prata
Proofreading by Mark Brogan
Photos from BO archive
Logo BO by LAB 436
Design by škart
Belgrade 2021
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