Welcome to Portobello

Iman Tajik

2020-2021 All At Sea Assemble Migration

A two-year residency project with Iranian artist Iman Tajik exploring issues around migration such as freedom of movement, borders and displacement with a series of interventions and installation at Portobello Beach & Promenade.

IMAN TAJIK developed a two-year residency project working with Art Walk Projects, beginning in 2020 with a durational performance ‘Where the Body Meets the Land’ on Portobello Beach as part of our socially distanced All At Sea programme.

Iman’s own experience of crossing geographical borders fuels much of his practice, with a strong desire to activate debate around the impacts of barriers and boundaries, including those also socially constructed. This series of site specific work resulting from his 2021 residency with Art Walk Projects responded to the locality of Portobello, situated on the edge of the city, bringing its position and relationship to the city centre, into focus.

Iman Tajik is an Iranian artist based in Glasgow whose work is anchored in a strong social interest connected to international movements for social change. His practice focusses on migration and freedom of movement bridging the gap between art and activism. imantajik.com

I Had a Dream‘ (Morton Street, Beach Groyne) 4th/5th Sept 2021
marked the many lost and unrecorded deaths at sea from migrants and refugees arriving through treacherous sea journeys, in search of a better life to another land many miles from their own, and more increasingly than ever, to UK shores. This momentary intervention (installed for the first weekend only of Art Walk Porty 4/5 Sept) referenced such journeys.

It was accompanied by a film from Tajik detailing the numbers of lost lives and missing migrants crossing by sea to the UK in 2020.

2021 projects

Welcome to the Border‘ (Promenade, near to Figgate Street) 4th to 12th Sept 2021 – introduced a temporary border at Portobello Promenade that generated debate and discussion around the notion of the border, as a line that divides and separates, rather than welcomes. 

Tajik invites the visitor to consider the crossing of the border. 
He calls for conversation through this work around how the boundary, literal or imagined, effects our sense of welcome, of being welcomed, with the divisive nature the border instils. 

The work also recalls Portobello’s own history around its boundaries; of a once separate geographical area, outwith the City of Edinburgh.

Border Sharing Dinner 
Portobello Promenade, Sept 2021

A public sharing of food across a temporary border line on Portobello Promenade Edinburgh. Commissioned by Art Walk Projects as part of Iman Tajik’s 2021 ‘Welcome to Portobello’ Residency. With thanks to all participants. Poetry ‘Bani Adam’ (Persia) from Saadi Shirazi’s book the ‘Gulistan’ (chapter 1, story 10, completed in 1258 AD) – spoken by Jane Lewis. Food – Judith Lamb. Videography – Rachel McBrinn.

Aliens Welcome Here?‘ (Portobello Kilns, Bridge Street) 11th/12th Sept 2021
On approaching the structure around Portobello’s kiln (waiting to be refurbished), we perhaps think of a UFO landed from outer space. What may first appear as Tajik’s playful take on this familiar local site, at the same time invites us to look again, and to reconsider the terminology around “alien” and its relationship to immigration and displacement. Dictionary definitions of alien include “a creature from another planet” as well as “belonging to another country”. The UK Aliens Act of 1905 declared that “undesirable immigrants” be denied entry to Britain. This act was amended in 1919, however the British Nationality Act of 1981 still defines an alien as a person who is not a British citizen. This powerful & compelling work by Tajik, brings sharp attention into focus around the use of such dehumanising language.

View accompanying images relating to this installation here

Above images – credit: Jon Davey

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