BLOOD & SOIL: we were always meant to meet…
A journey of impossible encounters, transnational love and foreign interventions.
A dialogue between two performers.
A performance event at the WECC by Lena Simic and Jennifer Verson
1 April 2011 7pm FREE
West Everton Community Council (WECC) Bute Street, Everton, Liverpool, L5 3LA
Blood & Soil: we were always meant to meet… was a performance event by Lena Simic and Jennifer Verson which sought to problematise notions of citizenship and belonging current in the application process for becoming British in the UK. ‘Blood & Soil’ took place at West Everton Community Council in Liverpool, April 2011 (funded by Arts Council England).
The piece was conceived as a ‘community exam’ where the audience members took the ‘Life in the UK’ test – an obligatory test for all immigrants applying for British citizenship and for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Throughout the performance/test, two performers map their stories of multiple belongings to this isle.The performance event addresses the question of how texts regulate, map and shape real living bodies. The piece juxtaposes the memorizing of the facts and figures of the ‘Life in the UK’ test alongside the fictionalized poetic narration of ‘nearly-lost’, ‘almost-forgotten’ identities of the performers – in this case as a ‘Yugoslav’ and a ‘Jew’.
Blood & Soil is a performance process through which the artists’ bodies and memories become a landscape that is being continually mapped. The process mirrors and reflects upon the early explorer Marco Polo who travelled in an unmapped world and whose stories ‘became’ only through dialogue with another. It is in the mapping of this landscape that belonging/identity/citizenship can constitute itself.
The piece is informed by a methodology of test taking/giving that is interrupted by stories and memories. The audiences’ emotions, memories and anxieties evoked by test taking are part of the performance text. These memories enable a cognitive and real time experience of the process which an immigrant must deal with. This shared experience holds within it a seed of potentiality for mapping of a radically inclusive British identity. This ‘new identity’ in turn, holds the potential to transcend the historic problematic of equating nationalism and citizenship with racial/genetic identity.
For Migrant Artists Mutual Aid on 11th December 2011 at the Lantern Theatre Jennifer and Lena performed Betting on Being British. The final performance of Blood & Soil: we were always meant to meet… took place on 29th June 2012 at Liverpool Hope University.