Barber, Claire (2017) The Transmigration Project. In: 3rd International Congress of Visual Culture, 22nd - 23rd May 2017, Universitat Abat Oliba CEU, Barcelona, Spain. (Unpublished)

This presentation proposes the luggage basket as a travelling concept for the relations between craft making and transmigration. Firstly, I consider the luggage basket as a place-holder for identities past and present through examining its own structure as a vehicle for conceptual thinking. Then I reflect on how certain strategies of thinking-through-making are brought to the fore in the analysis of specific examples, through an exploration of the interconnectedness between materials and the landscapes they derive to the distancing of this relationship as the luggage basket travels to unfamiliar terrains. In turn, this cultural analysis provides the framework for The Transmigration Project, developed at Hull Paragon Railway Station and commissioned by Hull City of Culture 2017 in response to the context of indirect passage through Hull during the period 1836-1914 known as transmigration. During this period, more than 2 million people arrived into Hull in the UK by ship from mainland Europe, and left by train to the transatlantic ports of Liverpool and Southampton, seeking new lives in the New World. This mass movement of people, many of whom were in Hull for just a few hours, ended abruptly with the outbreak of WW1. The Hull Paragon Railway station becomes a dynamic setting and subject for the artwork ‘The Train Track and the Basket’ whereby images of multiple photographs taken while walking systematically along train tracks are combined with the tools and skills of basket making to become a fibre into the cultural story of transmigration. Transmigration is thus carried metaphorically by the luggage basket into the space of the contemporary traveler, and for a moment, invites a consideration of terrain, context and material technological appropriation in the context of a life in transit.

Keywords: craft making, cultural identity, transmigration, hybridity, technological appropriation, inherited knowledge

The Transmigration Project
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