Aleksandra Mir

Alonka di Lubino

MARGATE—This is my only solo show in 2016, a year of great anxiety and drawbacks, both personal and political, but also a year of fierce resistance and humble endurance.

A stone’s throw from the Turner Contemporary on 8 October, the same day that another J.M.W. Turner show opened with his drawings and paintings of the same seaside made in this very same spot 200 years earlier, I drew on my lineage to the old master directly in the sand.

My drawing did not even survive overnight, erased when the tide came in later that evening, but the ritual gesture distills everything I know about Turner and about Art History.

To make a mark, to put down one’s name, to sign up, is all it takes to claim ownership over something and to belong to a place or to a tradition. As such, I claimed the same ‘lovely skies’ and breathed the same fresh air as J.M.W. Turner had done, so to manifest our bond and my belonging to this place, in that moment.

Alonka di Lubino is a mash-up of places I have occupied and people who have played a role in shaping my life. Alonka is the diminutive for Aleksandra which my parents, one a Catholic, the other a Jew, gave me as a toddler and still use although it is ill suited for the middle aged woman I am today. Lubin is the Polish small town in which I was born and exiled from at age four and that since the Communist era has transformed itself beyond recognition. Even if I went 'back home' it would not be the same place and I would be more of a stranger there than here in Margate where I only set foot for a day.

di Lubino is simply poor Italian grammar (it should be da), a nod to my five years in Palermo and to the Italian Renaissance artists who commonly took names that referred to their hometowns, such as Antonnelo da Messina, Moretto da Brescia or Leonardo da Vinci. The tradition is still alive in modern and contemporary practice, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Georg Baselitz come to mind.

The capital handwriting honours my Protestant Swedish school teacher Ingela Stock who taught me how to read and write in the 70s and the whole idea is the legacy of my American teachers and professors, Amy Taubin at the School of Visual Arts and Rayna Rapp at the New School for Social Research, who in the 90s taught me how to think critically about thinking critically and of course all my artist friends and art world colleagues around the world who go to work every day in the Office of Expanding Minds at the Department of Crossed Borders.

This piece is dedicated to all those who peddle simplistic narratives about their own origins and cultures, turning such tales into dogma and policy about who belongs where and how to control the ineviatble flow of peoples. The only thing we can be certain of is that our organic bodies deteriorate just like our landmasses transform. Ironically, few geological formations erode and shift so rapidly and visibly as our coast lines and beaches, that which makes up the British Border and it seems, sense of self.