Category Archives: Borders

Hiwa K, Pre-Image (Blind as the Mother Tongue) (2017)

Single channel HD video, 17:40 mins

“Work Description

Pre-Image (Blind as the Mother Tongue) re-traces a journey undertaken on foot by Hiwa when he fled Iraqi Kurdistan in the mid-1990s. This long and often dangerous journey — lasting five months and two days and passing through Iran, Turkey, Greece, France and Italy — was an “experience of space and time” and a “fracturing of spatial and cultural experiences.” Each point along the way, whether a city or town, was experienced fractally, and always from below — with no overview.

In this work, the artist uses an adapted balancing device, equipped with motorcycle mirrors, to re-create the disorienting experience of space and time experienced by so many making similar journeys. One mirror reflects what is ahead, another behind, while the others reflect the artist and his immediate surroundings. To walk forward he must balance and control the device, alluding to the effort needed to keep moving and recalibrate oneself to new contexts.

Artist Biography

Hiwa K (b. 1975) Lives and works between Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Berlin, Germany.Working across video, performance and installation, Hiwa’s work draws from personal experiences, including family anecdotes, his path through arts education, and daily encounters and occurrences.

Hiwa K’s works have been included in group exhibitions including Documenta 14, Kassel (2017); 56th Venice Biennial curated by Okwui Enwezor (2015); Asian Art Biennial, Taipei (2019); 21st Contemporary Art Biennial Sesc Videobrasil, Sao Paulo (2019); Anren Biennale, Sichuan (2019); Yinchuan Biennale (2018); and MOMA Ps1, New York (2019).

Recent solo exhibitions include: Kunsthalle Mannheim (2019); S.M.A.K. Museum, Ghent (2018); KW Institute of Contemporary Art (2017) and KOW Gallery, Berlin (2016). His work has been awarded the 2019 Hector Preis and in 2016, both the Arnold Bode Prize and the Schering Stiftung Art Award.” (credit)

Alex Villar, Temporary Occupations (2001)

man jumping fences and fitting into narrow passages

Alex Villar, Temporary Occupations, 2001, USA, miniDV, colour, silent, 4 min. excerpt of 6 min.

“Drawing from interdisciplinary theoretical sources and employing video-performance, installation and photography, I have developed a practice that concentrates on matters of social space. My interventions are done primarily in public spaces. They consist in positioning the body of the performer in situations where the codes that regulate everyday activity can be made explicit. The body is made to conform to the limitations of claustrophobic spaces, therefore accentuating arbitrary boundaries and possibly subverting them. A sense of absurdity permeates the work, counterpoising irrational behaviour to the instrumental logic of the city’s design.
Theoretical references cover the extensive work done on the problematic of space, especially the works of Foucault and de Certeau, which describe panopticon and heterotopic spaces as well as the potentialities for everyday re-writings of urban space. Aesthetic traditions foregrounding my work go from the sixties and seventies performative-based sculpture and installations by Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark and Cildo Meirelles, to the urban strategies of the Situationists and the anarchitecture of Gordon Matta-Clark. Like the in-between activities it seeks to investigate, my work lives between various fields: part nomadic architecture, part intangible sculpture and part performance without spectacle.

Temporary Occupations from alex villar on Vimeo.

Temporary Occupations depicts a person running on the sidewalk in New York while ignoring the city’s spatial codes and therefore resisting their effects upon the organization of everyday experience. The clips in the video register situations of temporary invasion and occupation of private spaces located in a public setting. The action simply articulates the continuity of these spaces with the remaining areas from which they were extricated, drawing attention to, and possibly subverting, the boundaries that demarcate them.
This piece is part of a long-term investigation and articulation of potential spaces of dissent in the urban landscape, which has often taken the form of an exploration of negative spaces in architecture.” (credit)

Tim Brennan, Roman Runner: Limes Germanicus I (2013)

Brennan’s current project – one might almost call it a campaign – entitled ‘Roman Runner’ involves the artist envisaging running the entire circumference of the Roman Empire. To date, he has traversed Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall as ultra-marathon manoeuvres.

“Tim Brennan, Roman Runner: Limes Germanicus I (2013)

Tim Brennan has ran more than 90 miles across The Netherlands in 19 hours as part of his major performance art project to trace the edge of the Roman Empire across the globe. He completed a solo run along the edges of the Roman Empire in Continental Europe, which he began at 3am on Saturday (August 24) taking the road east from Katwijk- Aan-Zee, on the edge of the North Sea to Herwen-De-Bijland, near the German border and the Black Sea, known as the Lower Germanic Limes (frontier).” (credit)

Saleh Khannah, In Between Camps (2012)

A more recent walking artwork highlighting the intersection of walking and race is In Between Camps (2012), which consisted of a group of six researchers and artists, Ismael Al-bis, Fabio Franz, Matteo Guidi, Thayer Hastings, Ibrahim Jawabreh, Saleh Khannah, Sara Pelligrini, Giuliana Racco, and Diego Segatto, walking across the West Bank from the springs of al-Arroub to Solomon’s Pools (three massive stone reservoirs) south of Bethlehem in search of an ancient Roman waterway, the Arrub Aqueduct. The project originated from the Campus in Camps program developed by Al-Quds University, an experimental education program in the Palestinian refugee camp of al-Dheisheh. The purpose of the project was to both reactivate the water system’s source, and imagine a time-frame before the contemporary apartheid-reality of walls, colonial land parceling, and occupation of Palestine. While they were hiking, the group was stopped by Israeli soldiers who were suspicious of the Palestinian participants due to their skin tone and dress. The international participants intervened and explained the trip, their search of the aqueduct, and showed them the map, engaging in a type of information overload tactic, not unlike the tactics Codogan described for minimizing the perception of criminality. After the walk, the group created a booklet (Booklet ) reflecting on the history of the site, their experience, and how the various layers of race-based rule and exclusion are projected on the land.

Hastings, Thayer. “Tracing a Line Through a Fractured Palestine, from al-Arroub to Bethlehem,” Walking Art / Walking Aesthetics. Accessed May 16, 2022: https://walkingart.interartive.org/2018/12/thayer-palestine

Michael Belmore, Coalescence (2017)

“Michael Belmore’s Coalescence was conceived as a single sculpture in four parts, [as part of LandMarks2017/ Repères2017 invites people to creatively explore and deepen their connection to the land through a series of contemporary art projects in and around Canada’s National Parks and Historic Sites from June 10-25, 2017.]. Sixteen stones, ranging in weight from 300 to 1,200 pounds, are fitted together and inlaid with copper, then situated to frame the vast distance between the southernmost boundary of the Laurentide Ice Sheet near Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan, to one of its points of drainage into Hudson Bay in Churchill, Manitoba.

stone with copper

Sites in Riding Mountain National Park and The Forks National Historic Site, both in Manitoba, punctuate the stones’ migration. Together, the four locations mark meeting points between water and land: ancient shorelines, trade routes and meeting places, sites of annual mass migrations of animals, as well as the forced displacement of peoples.

Belmore uses copper as a way to invest the stones with labour and value. The stones come against each other to create a perfect fit, while their concave surfaces move apart slightly to reveal the warm glow of copper to reflect light. Each crevice is filled with a fire that will be extinguished with age, turning brown, then black, and reaching a luminous green hue as it settles into the landscape. They are a marker of how everything comes from the ground and returns to it, and how these processes stretch far beyond human understanding of time.

Belmore has created a moment of connection between deep geological time of stone and the linear human time of labour. On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Confederation, this connection acts as a reminder of how the timelines of national celebration do not take into account the timelines of the land on which they take place. The stones were going to traverse a land familiar with rising and falling waters to reach their locations, but spring 2017 brought a record snowstorm and a spring melt that washed out the rail line that serves as the main transport artery between Churchill and southern Manitoba.

The political negotiations that followed have left the responsibility for its repair unresolved — part of the continued legacy of colonialism, the challenges of northern transportation and migration, and the importance of international trade routes that go back to Canada’s first trading posts. Belmore’s piece remains intact in Churchill, its splitting and migration halted by the processes that reach out from its conceptual core.” [credit]

Rocca Gutteridge, UK Border Walk (2011)

community discussion
“A walk along the Scottish/English border to highlight restrictive visa policies for overseas artists, Artist Rocca Gutteridge and Claudia Zeiske undertook a walk along the Scottish/English border in reaction to the introduction of the Tier 5 visa policy for foreign artists on 5-7 August 2011.

UK Border Walk was a 77km walk along the English/Scottish border and included an Artachat discussion in the Romany town of Kirk Yetholm, the halfway point of the walk, about the detrimental effects of the new visa regulations for overseas artists. Both walk and talk highlighted and discussed the effects the Points Based System has for arts and cultural activities across our communities in the UK.

The UK Border Talk took place on Saturday 6th August in Kirk Yetholm, a small town along the border of Scotland and England. This was an open debate on the consequences of the PBS to UK cultural life. Speakers included visual artist Zineb Sedira, photographer Baudouin Mouanda, novelist Kamila Shamsie, artist/cultural commentator Nicholas Trench and Venu Dhupa, Director of Creative Development/Creative Scotland.

People had the option to join for:

  • the whole walk (ca 37 km on 5/6 August and 40km on 7 August); very strenuous and full equipment required.
  • all Sunday (ca 40km) very strenuous and full equipment required.
  • 5km and back on the Sunday morning, returning to Kirk Yetholm ca 12pm. The UK Border Walk continued towards Hungry Law the next day; joined by many for the 5km for the 5 Tier policy walk despite appalling weather conditions.

What is PBS?

In autumn 2008 the UK introduced a new points based system (PBS) for managing migration to the UK. The regulations have led to a restriction of non-European artists’ ability to come to the UK at the invitation of arts curators, promoters and artists. UK hosts are now required to be licensed sponsors if they wish to invite visiting artists. This has regulated the relationship between international artists and UK hosts from one of convivial artistic exchange, collaboration and cultural production to a contract which is excessively bureaucratic and treats international guest artists with suspicion and control. PBS has led to the cancellation of artists’ residencies, exhibitions, productions and performances across the UK. Many artists are refused visas while others are deported from UK airports because they were not sponsored.

For a full dossier of testimonials, petition to UK Government and media coverage visit the Manifesto Club’s website.

UK Border Walk is a partnership between: Deveron Projects, Artachat, Manifesto Club and ARTSADMIN. In collaboration with GASWORKS, Thami Mynyele Foundation and Edinburgh Arts Festival.” [credit]

Renée Green, Walking in NYL (2016)

This film depicts a combination of New York and Lisbon’s urban spaces via the artist’s wanderings, where she discovers past lives in the landscape. “The viewer seems to meander through the city alongside the artist. Walking in NYL distorts time and place by shuttling between New York and Lisbon – the hectic pace of the former cued by the honking of Midtown cabs, the latter’s ramble down steeply cobbled streets. The videos slow down when Green pauses to look at details, such as the tawny stone exposed by chipped paint.” [credit]

The work touches on issues of multi-layered histories and spaces, beginnings, home, senses of national or cultural origin, unstable identities, stories of past and present, individual versus collective, and crossings. Imagery focuses on water and the artist’s movements. [credit: Ana Balona de Oliveiera, Third Text, 2016. Vol. 30, Nos. 1-2, 43-59.]

David Taylor, Working the Line (2007)

“Beginning in 2007, started photographing along the U.S.-Mexico border between El Paso/Juarez and San Diego/Tijuana. My project is organized around an effort to document all of the monuments that mark the international boundary west of the Rio Grande. The rigorous undertaking to reach all of the 276 obelisks, most of which were installed between the years 1891 and 1895, has inevitably led to encounters with migrants, smugglers, the Border Patrol, minutemen and residents of the borderlands.

During the period of my work the United States Border Patrol has doubled in size and the federal government has constructed over 600 miles of pedestrian fencing and vehicle barrier. With apparatus that range from simple tire drags (that erase foot prints allowing fresh evidence of crossing to be more readily identified) to seismic sensors (that detect the passage of people on foot or in a vehicle) the border is under constant surveillance. To date the Border Patrol has attained “operational control” in many areas, however people and drugs continue to cross. Much of that traffic occurs in the most remote, rugged areas of the southwest deserts.

My travels along the border have been done both alone and in the company of agents. In total, the resulting pictures are intended to offer a view into locations and situations that we generally do not access and portray a highly complex physical, social and political topography during a period of dramatic change.” [credit]

Lauren Brincat, Walk the Line (2016)

person walking into the ocean

Lauren Brincat, Walk the Line (2016)

Single channel High Definition video, 16:9, colour, sound
5mins 16 seconds; Sound: Nick Wales; Cinematographer: Kuba Dorabialski

“Brincat commenced a series of walking works in 2008. Over the last 10 years she has made video documentations of actions as a type of self portrait or political statement.

Walk the Line is a companion piece to Lauren Brincat’s Salt Lines: Play It As It Sounds (20116), an epic sculptural instrument fashioned from sailcloth, which is continually reconfigured in allusion to shifting tidal currents.

The work was filmed at Cape Leeuwin on the south-western tip of mainland Australia, considered locally to be the point where the Indian and Southern oceans meet. Brincat invokes this speculative and spectral contact zone as a metaphor for the arbitrary lines that overwrite the world ocean, from meridians and parallels to the International Date Line and, in particular, judicial and territorial boundaries.

This new video belongs to an ongoing series that documents the artist marking out paths through different environments, from a lush empty field to a chaotic urban expressway. These simple propositions, performed with pragmatism, hark back to the instructional scores and minimal movement language of the sixties interdisciplinary avant-garde. Walking is framed as both an expanded act of drawing and as psychosocial mapping, which always culminates with Brincat’s disappearance beyond the limits of the camera’s view.

Departing from the single fixed shot of the earlier videos, Walk the Line progresses through three distinct scenes. The opening sequence shows Brincat’s hands wiping across fossilised geological formations that are scattered along the Cape: an instinctive gesture that describes the ancient surface of the landscape. In the second scene, she picks her way over rugged sand dunes, charting the coastline as physical threshold. The final suspenseful shot shows the artist walk across the beach and into the water, eventually being subsumed into its depths.

Unlike the ‘maintenance’ actions for Salt Lines, which are recurring and relational, Brincat’s performance here is conducted in solitude and hauntingly finite. Distilling the notions of departure and disappearance, it is understated but insistently political. Colloquially, to ‘walk the line’ means to abide by a moral code. At a time when the ocean has become a desperate means of passage to asylum and an ideological battleground, the work quietly foregrounds what is at stake in the permeability of abstract borders. — Text by Anneke Jaspers ” [credit]

“Lauren Brincat’s durational performance captured on video demonstrates how walking can be a mapping of space and time. Walk the Line (2016) is a five-minute video that takes place at Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia. In the first few seconds, the artist’s hand is shown up close making sounds by being swiped across the surface of various rocks before revealing the artist at a distance, traipsing across dunes. Then, moving away from the camera, Brincat is seen walking in a straight line towards the ocean, eventually disappearing under its surface. We learn from the wall plaque that the artist traces the topographical demarcation between the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean. More interesting is the actual structure of the work, which has an ambient soundtrack throughout yet starts as a type of percussion piece, appearing increasingly melancholic as the artist—wearing what looks to a be a full-body leotard—fades from view.

To “walk the line” usually means to conform to an established moral code, made famous by Johnny Cash. In Brincat’s hands, this clarity around responsibility is shown to be at odds with the relatively arbitrary mapping of two different oceans. Such ambiguity is present in much of Brincat’s work, who applies Paul Klee’s account of drawing as “taking a line for a walk” to the realm of video and sound art. Recalling the vernacular minimalism of British artist Ceal Floyer, in many of Brincat’s short, easy‑to‑watch videos, she plays out an idea within very specific everyday contexts to see what eventuates.” [credit]