One Language Must Win describes the claustrophobic reality of a Swedish suburb, where social mobility has stagnated and where prejudice and stigmatization increases and spreads. The video deals also with issues of power and language, of how the Swedish language is used to keep people on the outside, to not involve them in the narratives of shared values and ”Swedishness”. These processes are also illustrated in the stories of how youth in the suburbs turn agains the Swedish language, exactly as it is used against them.
The video Crnogorci/Montenegriner is about the men from former Yugoslavia, those who are said to be barbarian, unemployed, uneducated, and macho men that spend all their days at cafés. Why are they seem as so threatening? Why are there such deeply held prejudices about them? In the video we encounter the artist’s father seated on a sofa inside an apartment. He is talking, but we don’t hear him. He is deprived of his voice and instead we hear a voice-over that tells prejudiced and stereotypical notions regarding men from Montenegro. In a very neutral and factual tone, they are described as unreliable, criminal, dishonest, workshy and lazy. Homi Bhabha describes the stereotype as a linguistic category that consists of language that has hardened and solidified: ”The stereotype is not a simplification because it would be a false rendering of a given reality. It is a simplification because it is a representation that has turned rigid and fixated.” The stereotypen is thus created through repeating a stiffened and constructed entity or copy without an original. By ”silencing” the father being interviewed, by robbing him of his voice, the video shows, elegantly and mercilessly, how prejudice spreads and is strengthened, how stereotypes becomes overbearing. And how those that are targeted experience their powerlessness facing their seemingly unyielding persistence.
In the video Dirt a woman is calmly and methodically cleaning a staircase in a large urban multistory house, while a voice-over retells various stories out of the artist’s family and friends experiences of structural racism, and general encounters as 1st and 2nd generation immigrants in Sweden. Hilarious, cruel, arresting and tragic stories regarding the impossible and contradictory structures, values and behvaiour they encounter in their everyday lives and in their attempts to live and survive in the new country.
Meira Ahmemulic (b 1974) is an artist and a writer. She has an MA from Valand Art Academy at University of Gothenburg, Sweden and she also studied art at Kelaniya university in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Migration, class, and language are central themes in her works. In both, videos and texts, she has focussed on the experiences of the first generation immigrants, their children and grandchildren, i.e. the 2nd and the 3rd generation of immigrants. Much of her work takes its inspiration from growing up in the Gothenburg suburb of Angered, and the contradictions and tensions in the Swedish society in terms of class, language, immigration, work and racism she experiences there and elsewhere. In several works she returns to the issues regarding the Swedish language and how it is applied to marginalize people, to keep them outside of ”Swedish society” and not part of ”Swedishness.” As a visual artist, Meira Ahmemulic has participated in exhibition in art galleries and museums across Sweden. Also active as a writer, she has published texts in journals such as Ord&Bild and Glänta, as well as the book City of Names (Glänta).