For the show in Pursuit of Happiness we wished to make a concrete social intervention which we would not represent through images, but somehow differently. We decided to rent a house in Leidsche Rijn, the newly built Vinex neighbourhood of Utrecht, for ca. the duration of the show, for one or more undocumented asylum seeker/s. We sub-rented, through a rental agency a “double-house” for a young mother from Sierra Leone with her child, whom we got contact with through organizations assisting undocumented migrants.
Instead of using photography or video to represent or illustrate this concrete social intervention we appropriated Duchamp’s invention of the readymade and took an ordinary object as a coffee-machine and wrote on it with a marker what we had done and that we planned to organize a double lecture on migration in the exhibition space (see page 44). For of a pedestal we used a roll of plastic wrapping foil. Later when exhibiting the work the coffee-machine is accompanied with video registrations of the two lectures.
The lectures sketched the situation and the image of refugees and undocumented people in The Netherlands, from out of a philosophical and historical perspective: Jurrie Ekkelboom, philosopher and employee from Vluchtelinge Werk: Talked about “The Concept Refugee in Historical Perspective”. Marijke Bijl historian, activist, originator of the first labour union for undocumented workers presented and talked about “Invisible Behind Glass”, a book she just published about the contribution of undocumented workers to the greenhouses industry in the Westlands in the Netherlands and the super market economy based on the exploitation of temporary work that nowadays has become illegal.
We would like to thank Stichting LOS (National Foundation for Supporting Undocumented People) and STIL (a solidarity organization for undocumented migrants) for their assist on the project.