Liminality and Refugees

When we typically think of abstract concepts such as “freedom”, no one expects that every individual’s idea of freedom to be identical. That is part of what makes the idea so powerful, its paradoxical ambiguity yet certainty in the idea. However, few of us can say that we have truly fought for this idea of “freedom”, considering that, for most of us, it has been a birthright.It has been in place before we were born, or at least, present for as long as we can consciously remember.

In addition to our freedoms of particular rights, we often overlook our freedom from atrocities that are a threat to basic human survival. Freedom from hunger, freedom from violence, and freedom from war are only to name a few. I would like to highlight a type of freedom that is often taken for granted: our freedom from displacement. A freedom that refugees from around the world do not have access to.

This week’s discussion and articles revolved around a recurring theme for me: how the toll of being in a liminal space affect an individual’s attitude and perception of their own identity and the world. Isabella Alexandra’s The Crossing,  highlights the stories of people such as Beni and Dikembe, for whom displacement from their home isn’t just about leaving point A and arriving at point B. The campsites where they spend waiting for a chance to cross the border from Morocco to Spain have become their own personal hell. Trapped in a liminal space, where an endless cycle seems to have no end, and rules are suspended. The predictable chaos and violence that occurs in such an in-between space, is a small price to pay to a chance to access their own idealized version of freedom.

In order to even begin to fathom what if feels like to be imprisoned in such an ambiguous and disorienting state, Beckah Reed’s and Zlatko Ćosić’s Liminal Rituals of Refugees is a respectful interpretation of this complex idea through dance and performative art. For an individual like me, who is all too aware of the impossibility of ever truly being able to empathize with a situation that I have never experienced, this piece illustrates the suffocation and desperation that cannot often be provoke for an audience that has never directly dealt with this experience. The feelings of powerlessness and anxiety that is created by this piece taps into our commonality and humanity, helps connects us a bit closer to the rest of the world.

Liminal Rituals of Refugees from Zlatko Cosic on Vimeo.

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