Finally arrived. After several hours on the open sea, the beacon light is now as close as ever. We are safe here. In the ›safe haven‹. A place of peace, tolerance, acceptance. Here, the laws of freedom, community, and helpfulness prevail. Just a few hundred meters along the island’s stony path and we will reach the beacon.
It Hasn’t Happened To Us, Yet. Safe Haven is a film by Chto Delat, a collective of artists, philosophers, and writers from Russia. The film describes the fictive story of a group of fleeing artists in a ›safe haven‹. These are actually existing refuges for artists who are politically persecuted or have to leave their homeland for other reasons. In twelve sequences, the film vividly shows what life could be like there in scenes filmed in a performative and documentary style. The work is presented as a projection of two image channels, creating an ongoing dialogue between two images or between image and text section. The only musical accompaniment is the singing of the island hymn. A mood arises that is pleasant or also oppressive, depending on the situation and commentary.
In spacious landscape images of the small Norwegian island, the film creates an almost meditative monotony that strongly contrasts the life of the refugees which is dominated by oppression and persecution. And yet the welcoming culture of the natives also expresses latent violence: Learning a hymn gives the refugees a task, but it also demands their adaptation to the island’s dominant culture. Expectations regarding the refugees are formulated. With some of the artists, a feeling of alienation and lonesomeness sets in, partially caused by no longer sensing the inner need to express oneself in art, as was the case before their flight. The ambivalence of the artists’ situation becomes ever more pronounced: security comes at the price of feeling culturally insecure and foreign. (Mara Heineke)