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Welcome to Europe - Now Go Home

2004, T-Shirt

When asked to fill out a simple form for his artistis biography in this program book, following "lives and works in" Berchem not only wrote the city of Amsterdam, but added this caveat: "thanks to an expensive but successful immigration attorney." Despite being a citizen of the United States, and thus holding a passport that is considered to be advantageous from the perspective of diplomatic relations, Berchem has experienced a myriad of frustrating obstacles in his pursuit of a residence permit in the Netherlands. In a number of works, Berchem speaks about his "progress" from America to Europe, but also in more abstract terms about issues of migration, as well as the anxieties revolving around it. In the moment of the enlargement of the European Union by ten new member statesÑwhose citizens are now subject to a new set of rules and regulations through which Western Europe seeks to limit their access to the job market and other opportunities, thus "offering" them secondary status in the so called "united" EuropeÑBerchem comes up with a brisk summary of the prevailing attitude: "Welcome to EuropeÑNow go home." What at first appears to be an ironic statement on the dual nature of hospitality is in fact an insistent appeal to acknowledge that this is a problem which all of us need to commit to resolving.

- Maria Hlavajova