Sound 3mins 13sec

The recording draws on 32 voices from as many countries, many speaking in a language which is not their mother tongue – addresses the universality of the experience of otherness. The recognition affords the possibility of commonality and defuses fear and distrust.

The contemporary political climate reinforces the fear of the other. This is a noticeable but not new post 9/11 phenomenon. The distrust of the other has always existed – distrust of people from the next village, people from other countries, people with a different world view or people who look different. The twenty first century brought ‘home’ the reality of violence to a generation in the west that had grown accustomed to thinking that war only happened in some other part of the world, with attacks on London, Paris, Nice, Stockholm, New York and elsewhere. In the interests of increased security it has been advantageous for the political elite to exploit this innate fear of the other and to compress in it into a fear of foreigners by reinforcing ideas of nationalism and cultural identity. Catarina Kinvall and Jitka Lindén argue: “Categories of us and them, home and away, east and west are constantly being used to defend invisible boundaries and thus create psychological distance between people, nations and continents.” On a micro level the fear of the other has always been overcome in a time of tragedy or crisis however rather than appealing to this basic understanding of commonality the current climate exploits the fear of otherness.

The work was exhibited in the Re-re-imagining Citizenship exhibition, Martin Hall exhibition space, Loughborough University, March 2019. 

It is now part of the Re-Imagining Citizenship Activity Book, a interdisciplinary participatory project that is currently exhibited at the Venice Biennale 2019 as part of the European Cultural Centre’s exhibition ‘Personal Structures’. 

The activity book stand is also currently being shown at Nottingham Contemporary.

  • To contribute and respond to the project go to: Foreighood: the state of being foreign can be found on page 53.
  • Alternatively you can contribute by:

Recording the following in a language or languages of your choice:

I am foreign
You are foreign
He/She is foreign
We are foreign
You are foreign
They are foreign

Use a mobile or a recording device and upload the files on the contact page