The project brings together art practitioners and theorists from three European cities, all positioned in close relation to the borders of Europe, particularly as defined in terms of the European Union: Helsinki, Zagreb and Belfast. Focusing on the smaller centres, or “off-centres”, of artistic practice in Europe, the project draws attention away from the cosmopolitan cities such as London, and questions the persisting dichotomies such as centre-margin and global-local. This project re-inscribes London, not as a centre, but as a centrifugal point, from which collaborations spin off to other locations. Centrifugal asks the following questions: What kinds of exchanges take place in the seemingly geographical margins of Europe, where its boundaries are constantly under negotiation? What are the geographical and political borders in Europe, and how do they define citizenship? What do the the terms local and centre mean today in what has been described as a smooth global world, where ‘origins’ and directions of power can no longer be clearly located? What is difference in this context? And finally, what do these positionings mean for artistic practices?
At the heart of the project is a desire to evaluate the idea of the European project from within, problematising the meaning of this notion of belonging and difference. The complex ways that we position ourselves in relation to Europe may be what actually binds together and simultaneously distinguishes the local situations. This shared point of reference is extremely fragmented and contradictory, and it cannot be pinned down even though it persistently haunts our attempts and desire to relate to each other. The project explores this troubled common ground through an investigation of the relationship between historical European Kingdoms and Empires and their inherited and colonial peripheral European lands and how this history also haunts the contemporary European project. These questions and histories are particularly pertinent in the case of applicant countries, such as Croatia, whose interim status pushes against all of these working definitions of Europe. Thus, Centrifugal reworks notions such as centre, periphery and border both on historical and contemporary, conceptual and structural levels.