I was born in Tehran (Iran). I came to the Netherlands when I was 13. The only thing I knew about the Netherlands was that it was below sea level. I had heard the story of the boy who put his finger in the dike and saved the country from flooding. The decision to move to Holland didn’t sound like a wise idea to me. Why move to a country that could be flooded at any moment?
During my 25 years here, the political climate has shifted. The public debate on migration has become harsher, heated and polarized. What would have been considered right-wing xenophobia back then, is now considered mainstream. Populists simplify complex realities into good and evil, victims and perpetrators: ‘us’ versus ‘them’. Their rhetoric often consists of dehumanizing words and metaphors. One of these is ‘water’.
We are inundated with headlines on how migrants are streaming into Europe, flooding the continent, bursting through national borders, threatening to submerge our culture and destroy everything we hold dear. Their rhetoric is gradually being adopted by mainstream politicians and media. It seeps into laws and policies and leads to direct action. Words are the first step in legitimizing walls and violence.
In reality, water is a huge threat to the thousands trying to reach European countries like The Netherlands. People trying to survive the Mediterranean Sea in rubber boats. Trying to survive winter on the Aegean coast in primitive tents. To them, water really is deadly.
In this project I aim to dissect the water metaphor, to understand and visualize the dominant discourse on migration and question the current. framing of refugees as a natural disaster.
Who is afraid?
Who is really threatened?
What is the price of fear?
Who pays this price?
The Flood (2021). Audiovisual installation, 9’27”.
● Concept, research, video: Tina Farifteh
● Sound design: Tijmen Bergman
● Video engineering: Daan Hazendonk
● Data: UNITED for Intercultural Action
● Design of the publication: HouseTMM