Identities within the city
At Museum Night Fever 2022, the House of European History hosted the CITIZENS* project of Skin Mutts - a series of photographic interviews in which Brussels citizens talked about their cultural identity in relation to the city...
By Lisa Mei Eeraerts, Co-Founder Skin Mutts
How does the place you are living in affect your identity? In which ways does it limit your identity? How does a city like Brussels, the hub of Europe, fit into the layered concept of who you are as a person?
Given Brussels’ unique geographical and political position, there are many people who have, in some way or another, a mixed cultural background. Whether your grandparents immigrated as newly weds, or you came for college and ended up sticking around, you are now connected to Brussels. But did you find a home here? Could Brussels naturally fill in the gaps or did it take time and effort for you to build your circle?
These are some of the questions and thoughts we wanted to explore in Brussels, as it is a truly multicultural city. There are so many of us here with different stories to tell, yet the city has its own unique feel that most of us have been able to find belonging in. This is how the CITIZENS* project was born. CITIZENS* is a photo-interview series of 21 different young adults who, despite their different cultural background(s), call Brussels (one of) their home(s). Through 20-45 minute long interviews, the participants told us different ways the city provided them space to explore themselves. These stories are now immortalized with their portraits taken in a location they chose in Brussels and specific quotes from their interviews.
Being able to share these stories with a broader public provides us with a unique opportunity to connect people. During the exposition people have approached us to tell us how they could connect to each story in some way, despite each story being completely original. Others have said that they never thought they’d see a story like theirs on the walls for anyone to see. Successfully bringing these stories to the forefront and sharing them at the House of European History shows the changing face of Europe and hope for human connection within the future.
As Europe further globalizes, more and more stories like this will become the new normal. We want to be there and show them that we understand belonging is not easy, but there is an entire crowd out here who are finding ways to build their own communities. On the flipside, this mobilization which, among other phenomena, has triggered more miscommunications and misunderstandings. Seeing how this has led to tangible implications within social life and politics in Europe, we want to show a glimpse of peoples’ lives. We want to show their hardships and highlight their joys, to remind everyone that though they may not be like you, they are simply trying their best like you. Skin Mutts is a platform that talks about cultural identity and aims to create a space for those of multicultural backgrounds to further explore themselves. Connect with us! Find us on all social media platforms and we are always open to collaborations. Find out more on our website, skinmutts.com.