“Kaert barn har mange navne” is a Danish saying meaning the one you have dear has many names. Used mainly for sarcastic situations; here too it is meant in a sarcastic manner. Migrants and their descendants have many names in Denmark; names, nick names and very derogative names. The series of work “Kaert barn har mange navne” is a compilation of these. Collected in my memory since I was a child and mainly from the 1990’ies and up until today.
The making of the golden necklaces have occurred out of a personal urge to question the stereotyping, that is often being made towards ordinary immigrants and their descendants in Denmark.
Wearing these names on a necklace should normally check the typical boxes of the stereotyping of migrant names. These types of necklaces are the ones we recognise on the necks of young New Danes (nydanskere (new Danes) after each summer holiday in their mother countries. Mainly from Turkey and the Middle East. They are normally displaying the names of the one who bears the necklace; a form of identity creation for young ethnic minority youth, especially girls.
When looked at from a distance these necklaces are expected to complete the idea of the stereotyped migrant. Usually spelling out unpronounceable names in ‘yellow golden’ letters. (being the bearer of the “Yellow golden” necklaces, is even a Turkish stereotyping of Turkish immigrants to Europe.)
The words here are carefully chosen (read: plucked out) from the horrific media hetz towards migrants since the mid 1990s. These mostly negative nicknames are displayed in the golden necklaces.
Although the stereotype of the migrant is one who usually ‘cannot speak’ (Gayatri Spivak’s term ‘the subaltern’) and who is always labeled by different groups in society, here in this work the migrant itself finally gets a voice talking back to the stereotyping name-makers for immigrants in Denmark via these necklaces.
As well as simultaneously being a surprise and shock to the Danish viewers on intend, who are part of constantly creating and re-creating negative discourses on migrant issues. The necklaces are deliberately made to keep the language, visual form of discrimination and discourse of the person who consciously and unconsciously stereotypes migrants and other marginal groups. The other.
I want these necklaces to be a mirror of those everyday conflicts taking place in Denmark, not just in the newspapers, but also in public spaces and especially in public transportation, where I happen to write most of my ideas, reflections and anticipations on this pressuring issue on Denmark and its ethnic minority groups.
Although this work is from 2013, the recent discussions and rhetoric on “Danishness” http://nyheder.tv2.dk/samfund/2016-09-23-martin-henriksen-man-er-ikke-noedvendigvis-dansk-fordi-man-er-foedt-i-danmark shows us that these issues are never being dealt with or developed on.