Matei Bejenaru thoroughly embraces the possibility that an artistic project may be valued for its capacity to be beneficial to others, as an acknowledge ment of an empathetic continuity between the self and the “other”. He is not an artist who simply gathers experiences and turns them into another form of commodity. Also, his works are not following the routines of “critical art”, but are about modes of “practical assistance” in the field of real social antagonisms. His most recent project Travelling Guide is quite literally a detailed “instruction” to underprivileged Romanian workers who are impelled to illegally enter Great Britain in search of jobs, and is produced through gathering information from experiences of those who have already established these channels. In his characteristically minute method, he embarks from the pressing fact that one out of four active Romanians work abroad, and more than half of them do this illegally. In the wake of the Romanian candidature for EU membership, the drastic economic inequality between Romania (or other countries of South-East Europe) and developed countries of the EU marks a fundamental point of frustration in contemporary Europe, which challenges many basic principles of liberal democracies, alleged openness of borders, freedom of movement, etc. Bejenaru explores the hidden world of illegal migration, provides information on the possible routes to take through border controls, ports and stations, produces diagrams and maps of routes and terminals, but also charts and instructions on how to access containers for travel, how to acquire a National Insurance Number, as well as some general advice on what to expect on arrival.
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