Jeanne Teller and Daniele Aristarco in conversation
At the Casa del Mantegna, Janne Teller sits between her interpreter and Daniele Aristarco, the author of E tu da dove vieni?. In her latest book, Hvis Der Var Krig I Norden (War - What if it Were Here?), Teller asks the children gathered at the event to imagine what it would be like if war broke out in their own country and they had to flee. Throughout the meeting, the two explore and discuss the themes of borders, empathy and imaginations. It’s an interactive discussion and the young audience is encourage to take part.
Daniele Aristarco, who was born in 1977, explains how his parents pictured the future world for their kids: there were talks about borders being destroyed and a general cultural openness. It’s ironic, he says, how nowadays all 40-somethings are talking about is hiding behind their values and closing those borders that they were so looking forward to seeing open. How did we reach this point?
Teller expands this thought by saying that closure is connected with some sort of detachment and lack of respect towards migrants, against which people should use their imagination as a means to learn empathy. That’s where the idea of War – What if it Were Here? came from: 20 years ago, it was a dark time for Danish politics and many politicians were very critical of migrants. As she puts it, her strategy was “to imagine the worst” to find out solutions to avoid reaching the point of blind disrespect. But it isn’t necessarily a negative thought process: Teller also asks her readers to focus on the “here and now” and not on big, philosophical questions that might be too much to handle.