Tunnel below / Skyjacking above: deconstructing the border Exhibition Project AG: Lisa Glauer : Jan Lemitz : Alex Câmara : Margarita Garcia : Nina Lundström, Yann Colonna
Contributing Artists/Supporters: Liz Bachhuber : ERRE, Marcos Ramirez : Ricardo Dominguez : Yann Colonna : Yoav Admoni : Hillary Mushkin : Sofia Dona : Vienne Chan : Edith Kollath Rationale This exhibit addresses the idea of The Border, focusing on the flashpoints of conflict around the shifting barriers of Fortress Europe and the contested ‘line’ between North and South at the US/ Mexico border. Official narratives of economic disaster, the extension of war zones and division are remarkably similar despite the ocean between the ‘old world’ and the ‘new’. Challenging this hegemonic concept is a global endeavor that requires multiple perspectives, thus we are looking beyond the local urgencies of the situation in Berlin, Germany and Europe, to collaborate with artist/experts from the border between the US/Mexico; bringing them here to interrogate the Border’s intangible, tangible and physical impacts alongside artists working in Europe. Our strategy lies in creating a critical, fragmented and diverse coalition of artistic responses where artists, filmmakers and urbanists working under different Border conditions reflect on questions as: Can Border phenomena be examined as part of a larger neoliberal agenda implemented via a war of images, habituating the public to increasingly violent realities? Can transposing artistic strategies from their respective contexts to Berlin give the idea of ‘the Border’ subjective distance? By placing the idea of the Border onto an aseptic stage on which its ephemeral, material and corporeal aspects can be challenged or even subverted, we will ‘Tunnel’ underneath the surface polarities of North/South, Citizen/Migrant and East/West and disassemble the different layers of visibility and invisibility at play in essentialist constructions. Divided into 3 parts: Ephemeral manifestations such as technology and surveillance, Material production and the fabric of free trade and Corporeal impacts on landscapes and bodies, the exhibit seeks to reveal narratives that are usually left out of the white cube and ‘Skyjack’ the very idea of Border.
Key concepts Tunnel - The tunnel reflects the distinction between wanted and unwanted mobility and subversive ways around this distinction. In its function the tunnel seems to have been transformed from a coherent facilitator of passage and flow into its complete opposite, that of a fractured barrier. The emerging visual landscape is a synonym for the political, economical and technological apparatus organizing (European) political and economical space. At present, undocumented migrants, waiting in Calais to cross over to the UK, have made Calais one of the key sites within Europe where clandestine migration is made visible. Calais' geopolitical position has been relocated from the inner to the outer frontier of European space. Parallel unofficial tunnels honeycomb global borders, notably in the US/Mexico and Israel/Palestine, where they serve as clandestine routes for bodies and goods. The tunnel serves as a gateway, passage and herald of subterranean meanings that provide a leitmotif for artistic work around the Border. Ephemeral Manifestations - As discussed by Shamir (2005), globalization can be actually seen as “systemic processes of closure and containment," evidenced by the emergence of a “global mobility regime” based on a suspicion paradigm, where control and containment of social movements is done both within and across tangible borders. This scenario profits from (and fosters) perceived threats of crime, immigration, and terrorism, deploying “global risk-management strategies”. A tangible result of the tunneling of Border pathologies into the formerly ‘safe’ zones of the Western core is the emergence of what Graham (2011) has called “Military Urbanism”: the inclusion of military rationale and 'state of war' vocabulary against domestic populations, The “city's spaces and population (become) sources of targets and threats”, a technical apparatus has arisen in order to filter (and block) subjects according to perceived risk rankings. Material Production - Militarization maintains and expands economic privilege: as border checks and surveillance apparatus grow, it becomes increasingly clear that the ‘freedom of movement’ purportedly part of the panopticon of Western rights is more applicable to goods and products than people. One of the threads that crisscross this process is the relocation of production centers to the Borders, both of Europe and the US. Mushrooming factories in Eastern Europe and the maquiladora cities at the US Border operate far from the regulations of labor and consumer protections, producing masses of cheap goods at huge ecological and human cost. While many things, from flat screen TVs to furniture are assembled and produced at these centers, fabric is of particular interest as the clothing industry is global, its abuses well documented and it has a long history of being used in artistic responses. We understand the role of fabric in the context of a border as a metaphorical tool that allows to imagine and to narrate contestations of the border. Tracing the journey of fabric through artistic means serves to tunnel through the warp and weft of material production. Corporeal Impacts - It is also important to consider which human lives and bodies are made visible or invisible through exclusionary processes. At present, those who can afford to purchase privilege through ‘Global Entry’ and similar programs are permitted to avoid border procedures and are given special treatment, a circumstance that reveals contemporary devaluations of human value, as less privileged bodies are often considered mere ‘collateral damage’. The impact of the contemporary Border far outreaches the barriers where some bodies are allowed to pass and others not. The contaminants from the chemicals used to produce the goods also show up in the bodies of people and workers on all sides - as they bypass borders via contaminated water and air (Tijuana/San Diego).
Curatorial Concept Information collection and sharing is especially relevant for displaced, fleeing populations: geographical and social orientation provide not only a safe “where” to go but also “who” to go to. Escape routes, safe communication techniques and logistics strategies are usually shared throughout networked flashpoints. In the current scenario of complexity, with the increasingly impermeable and militarized national borders that constitute contemporary Europe, the cell phone becomes crucial in navigating in this unknown territory. The Map, once produced collaboratively in fabric, literally weaving together the collected information over long periods of time, and intrinsic to the strategy of tunneling below and weaving through obstacles, is now revived in a digital version, widely accessible. Rather than looking at borders as single, isolated phenomena we are conceptualizing borders and border regions as part of a decentralized network that produces knowledge to monitor and control movements and mobility as well as their representations in visual culture. Bearing that focus in mind we will host, parallel to the show, a series of talks with theorists/researchers, artists, and activists aiming to provide a discussion/reflection platform. This network/threads will be represented by a walking and drawing tour aiming to produce psychogeographies through mind-mapping Berlin’s urban under-belly collectively. Images and information produced and collected will be sent to the exhibition space and displayed in real time. As the database expands with the collection and mapping of experiences and knowledge, visitors can orient themselves and practice crossing barriers. This is premised on the idea that we must practice the circumventing and overcoming of information restrictions and constantly changing barriers that have a direct impact on all our lives.
Who we are Lisa Glauer taught public art at the MFA Program at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar 2009-2015, with projects in Sarajevo, Budapest, Athens, San Diego, Tijuana, Chicago. Education: BFA, Painting, SUNY, Purchase, MFA Painting/ MS Art History, Pratt Institute, New York, MA Art in Context, UdK, Berlin, PhD, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar (summa cum laude). Founder/director of arttransponder.net Berlin. 2015, Out of b(O)rder, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar,Enjoy (Y)our State of Emergency, 2014, ngbk, 2013, AKW, Athens Biennial, DAAD resident artist USA/Mexico (UCSD): 2013, Department of Structural Engineering, (UCSD) 2012; 2011, Beyond Reproduction, Kunstraum Bethanien, Berlin; 2010; Re /Positioning: Critical Whiteness and Perspectives of Color, 2009, ngbk, Berlin, etc.
Based out of Düsseldorf, Jan Lemitz graduated from the MA in Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College in 2011. His work is informed by photographic practice, with a thematic focus on landscape and architecture. Most recently he was commissioned to participate to a research-led residency with FAbrica, Brighton and the Time and Place network.
Margarita Garcia has a BA, magna cum laude in Latin American History from Brown University, co- current studies at RISD, ICP and Parsons School of Design, NY. 2005, US Fulbright, South Pacific, founded an arts collective for indigenous youth. Rektorate Award, Bauhaus-Universität, 2011, MFA 2013. Thesis focused on (a)historical (re)insertions of missing and migrant presences in public spaces. Recently helped edit/coordinate Border Cities, a Bauhaus University publication on the US/ Mexican border.
Alexandra Camara is an architect and urban researcher specialising in migration and communication studies: her areas of interest include new media and its influences on the economic, political and social realms, the future of citizenship and the nation state, network theory, interactivity, public art and media art. Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, her academic activities have taken her to Weimar, San Diego, Tijuana, Alexandria, and Istanbul. She is working on her Doctoral research at the Bauhaus -Universität Weimar on immigrant integration strategies in German cities.
Nina Lundström is a Swedish artist living in Weimar, Germany. She graduated from the Fine Arts Academy of Oslo in 1999. She mostly works with video and experimental drawing. Her focus is on how we directly live with the consequences of migration, in our languages, our relations. She has taught at the Bauhaus University and currently teaches at Erfurt University.