The British Library

Theda’s Story

I’m German 50 years old, with a Polish grandmother. Raised in Germany I’ve lived in Spain, France and the UK. We left the UK in 2017 one year after the referendum which we perceived as very much centred around the concept of identity and acceptance of migration. While it did not trigger our emigration it advanced it by some years.

Convinced that there is no such thing as a clearly defined nationality or identity based on where one was coincidentally born, to me the EU was a wonderful starting point to overcome such concepts which inflicted the worst crimes upon mankind as taken to the extreme by ideology in my home country.

As a teenager when travelling abroad I was sometimes confronted with a hostile attitude due to my nationality. So childishly we pretended to be Swiss or Austrian.

While I understood the reasoning I still perceived it as unjustified given that my two grandmothers couldn’t even vote in 1933 as they were underage. Some of my family took part in the nazi state, some actively opposed, some behaved opportunistically and tried to undermine the system subversively.

I hope that the pendulum swings back and this piece of art brings people to think about their own country and how much it shapes their identity. However people contemplating about this probably would not be biased towards immigration but see it as a persistent flow of ideas enriching themselves and inspiration.

-Theda, Luxembourg

© Yinka Shonibare, 2018 | Website by Hanna Sorrell