Nominee Drempelprijs Social Practices 2019
In Between is a personal publication about home, belonging and identity from cross-cultural perspectives. A cross-cultural person has lived in — or and meaningfully interacted with two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during their developmental years. The concept "cross-cultural" is an umbrella term for biracial, bicultural and multicultural children, but also for children of ex-pats, refugees, migrants and international adoptees (the term applies both to children who are now adults).
Rather than being culturally unrooted, we are culturally unlimited.
When you are familiar with interacting with all kinds of worlds, a simple (yet heavily loaded) question like "where are you from?" can be dreadful and thoughts such as "where do I belong?" tend to arise. So how does one navigate this in-between space between a multitude of worlds where it feels like you don't ever fully belong? Where other people question the validity of your nationality solely through your appearance. Feelings of rootlessness or even alienated from your parents' culture are in fact the by-products of a unique and powerful transnational and transcultural lifestyle, which is also full of benefits. Rather than being culturally unrooted, we are culturally unlimited.
An understanding of this in-betweenness is so important, as we are transitioning into a society where growing up among cultural differences is becoming the rule, rather than the exception — even for those who do not physically leave their home country. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to be a globalist and have national pride. This does not equal betraying your country, as many politicians state. It simply means you have enough social empathy, and you project some of it outside your national borders.
Even though we are all culturally different in many ways, part of the human experience is to want to belong somewhere. We all find meaning in a fundamental sameness which creates a space to understand one another, even if we are not rooted in one geographical place or ethnicity. Identities can be ambiguous and multilateral. Thus, exactly this dynamic essence of a modern identity is highlighted through the portraits of six different cross-cultural people, through personal objects that represent "home" for them, accompanied by conversational interviews. Being cross-cultural offers a possibility to rethink and reshape restrictive and divisive notions of where we belong to, and shows that there is also a valid place of belonging in not belonging, or rather the beauty of belonging everywhere and nowhere.
There is also a valid place of belonging in not belonging, or rather the beauty of belonging everywhere and nowhere.
The classic plastic chair in the photographs is used as a lingua franca, as it is familiar to almost anybody. Its power is that it can be placed anywhere in the world whilst remaining context-free, transcending cultures and adapting to its environment wherever it is placed, just like the cross-cultural community.
Visit Ambre's website to see her other projects