'We See Heaven Upside Down'
"Paradoxically, to internalize the discovery that another person is a stranger, with their own inner-life and uniquely ''other'' perspective, is a rare but real contact with another subjectivity; Our differences define both our individualism as well as our inseparable connection. This dichotomy between how we strive to shape our own lives individually towards our own goals and how we interact with strangers in a common space lies at the heart of the human condition, and it becomes
particularly pronounced in times of mass migration, when cultures of apparent contrast are forced to interlace with one another." M.Dinh
We See Heaven Upside Down is an evolving dialog responding to the contemporary challenges of migration, displacement, identity and home. Initiated and created in 2015 by artist MyLoan Dinh - herself a former refugee of the Vietnam War, the multidisciplinary art project has since developed into an international creative dialog that seeks to stimulate further discourse and understanding around these issues. At the heart of the project lie inspiring stories all expressed through contemporary visual and performing arts.
The project seeks to challenge the misunderstandings that currently divide our communities by utilizing vast range of voices that are distinct in their tones, timbres and rhythms to dissolve misconceptions and prejudices that exist between people with divergent life circumstances, forming connective tissue between a variety of singular experiences. In and through visual and performing arts, the project seeks to spur raw moments of trust and genuine empathy towards other individuals and their journeys. At the same time, We See Heaven Upside Down provides a safe and informative platform where those who have experienced the trauma of displacement can share their unique stories with the greater community.
Displacement: the situation in which people are forced to leave the place where they normally live.
Refugee: A person seeking refuge who, by reason of real or imagined danger, has left their home or country of nationality & is unwilling or unable to return.
Heaven: A condition or place of joy and happiness.
Upside Down: in such a way that the upper and the lower parts are reversed in position; in or into great disorder.
“Within and through this art project people are connected to create something new, to embrace change and dynamic process – the emphasis is placed on the common ground that we share. This is also a foundation for democratic processes in communities. People are coming together to negotiate a common goal. They open spaces in which democratic values are lived – on a small scale with big impact.“
The Partnership for Democracy, Schöneweide - Berlin, a division of the German Federal Ministry for Families, Seniors,
Women and Youth & the German Federal Program for Democracy Lives
"By highlighting individual life stories the reality and emotions of the refugee flight offers a perspective that is deeply intimate. The opportunity to tell these stories through art magnifies the depth of transition that refugees must experience."
Marsha Hirsh, Executive Director, Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency
"...compelling treatment of the immigrant or migratory person's experience to supersede the divisive inflammatory political climate of our times,
and to connect to our students and community in way that was deeply meaningful: through personal narrative."
Cassandra Richardson, Gallery Director, Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art & former Galleries Director, CPCC
"The collaborative platform of this project has proven to be an important catalyst for discussing issues around migration and the varied perspectives of refugees.
I came to know of the project/exhibition this last year and believe them to be one of the most significant I have seen in the region."
Isaac Payne, Executive Board Member, McColl Center for Art + Innovation and professional artist
"The narratives this work provokes is crucial for our time and as an artist who uses concept and form embedded with respect to social justice, participation in the project has allowed me to create alliances in a global community of like minded artists."
Cannupa Hanska Luger, project guest artist