We Sell Reality
‘Every person who is in Amsterdam, including undocumented migrants, should be granted the same basic rights, such as the right to work. We cannot afford to pretend inclusivity when we structurally place people outside our society.’
Open Studio (2020)
The city of Amsterdam is where the protest by the refugee collective ‘We Are Here’ began in September 2012, a protest by undocumented refugees who lead a more or less disenfranchised life here and who have nowhere to turn. Amsterdam is also the city that curtailed the ‘We Are Here’ protest in such a way that the collective is now splintered and the voice of the undocumented refugee has once again been quieted. This silence does not mean that the problems facing undocumented refugees in this city, in this country, and on this continent have been solved. Refresh Amsterdam can give the emancipatory discourse of Amsterdam’s non-privileged inhabitants a significant push in the right direction, something to which We Sell Reality is committed.
The installation Open Studio is an ideal visualisation of the open source collective We Sell Reality: an imaginary studio where member of the collective can work and collaborate, where they can develop and realise appealing projects, and in which everyone who works there is recognised as an individual and paid completely legally. This is We Sell Reality’s dream. However, such a dream is for the moment beyond their reach, since undocumented refugees do not have the right to work. Open Studio shows the potential of the collective, which consists of both documented and undocumented artists. In all its opulence, the project demonstrates what would be possible if one could operate in complete tranparency. At the same time, the installation provides insight into the restrictions imposed on undocumented refugees due to the lack of basic rights, such as the right to work. Open Studio can therefore be read as a visual and open plea for the right to work for undocumented refugees – a call to open doors that are currently closed.
We Sell Reality
The Amsterdam-based label We Sell Reality is set up as a collective that acts contrary to social norms, addressing the vulnerable status of migrants in Europe who must depend on official immigration documents. We Sell Reality makes products and installations, and creates performative interventions in public space. They are an offspring of We Are Here, a refugee collective that campaigns for human rights and against asylum policies in the Netherlands. Both collectives aim to increase awareness of these topics and inspire revolutionary change.