The concept of Sofra Art workshops, created by the artists Ivana Bogićević Leko and Snežana Skoko for women beneficiaries of the centres for accommodation of asylum seekers, also came into fruition in the Centre in Bogovađa. The workshops began with the arrival of autumn, and lasted until the beginning of summer.
During these months, Sofra Art encompassed a large number of activities: sitting at the sofra, as a gathering and socialising place for people we are close with, or at the desk, where strengths and skills are combined to create clothing and practical items (scarves, caps, mesh shower sponges), as well as exhibition items, which speak a bit about identities, cultures, feelings and problems.
During the long winter months, scarves, hats, sweaters were knitted, and at sofras, they used to talk about holidays and customs, while having Turkish delight, halva and tea. Around the New Year, the participants started working on canvas – a satin tablecloth, where they embroidered the items and food present at the New Year’s table. The tablecloth was finished at the beginning of spring, when the Persian New Year – Nowruz was celebrated in the Centre, and it was exhibited for the first time. The New Year’s sofra, besides various foods, contains a variety of symbols: mirror, as a symbol of light; a golden fish bowl, for the fulfilment of wishes; red-coloured eggs, as a symbol of fertility. Nowruz is celebrated on the first day of spring, most often outdoors, in nature.
The celebration in the Centre took place in the courtyard, with the participation of all the camp residents and their guests (our team was among the guests). The adults prepared the sofra and ceremonial speeches and the children had music and dance performances. After the program in the courtyard was completed, everyone was served desserts from the table, while sitting on colourful carpets in the yard, enjoying the sun rays.
With the arrival of spring, the atmosphere in the camp became more joyful, and so cheerful topics were discussed during the workshops: wedding customs and wedding ceremonies, and naturally make-up and ways of dressing. Make-up techniques were applied on the spot. We compared customs, from the position that customs are actually sets of extraorditarinesses, even when they are pretty similar to other cultures. Comparing customs we would at first look unusual to each other and in the next step we would realize the arbitrariness of our own patterns of behavior.
However, the story of weddings was not so happy when it came to the issue of women’s rights. However, there were no forbidden topics: we talked openly about contract marriages, deprivation of rights, patriarchy and the need for change.
All these stories, events and objects will be turned into an exhibition, whose mission is above all the educational one, with which we will start our journey to galleries, museums, schools to create new places for meeting people from the local community and people who are new members of our society.
Photos: Luka Knežević Strika
Project: INVOLVED – INclusiVe COmmunities Lead to the Vibrant SociEty without Discrimination; Our new neighbours – a step closer; Psychosocial Support to Migrant and Refugee Children, Women and Parents/Care-Givers in the Bogovađa Asylum Centre
Goal: Project goal is raising awareness of asylum seekers and migrants, general and professional public on social, economic and cultural rights of asylum seekers and migrants; Contribution to the development of the reception system for different categories of migrants and an open and tolerant society; Psychosocial wellbeing of refugee and migrant children, women and parents/care-givers supported through an adequate psychosocial support programme.
Implementers: Group 484 (Educational Program “We and the Others” and Direct Support Program)
Support: The Delegation of European Union in RS – European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR); Open Society Foundation Serbia; Save the Children