We are an international group of artists, architects, art historians and urbanists proposing an exhibition at ngbk to directly address the idea of ‘Border’ and its immediate impacts. In order to better understand the complexities of this phenomenon we are focusing on the flashpoints of conflict where Fortress Europe is setting up shifting barriers and the contested ‘line’ between North and South at the US/ Mexico border.

Challenging official narratives of the Border is a global endeavor and requires a multitude of perspectives and tools. Despite the seductive urge to search for a unifying theme, or to focus on the local urgencies of the situation in Europe, Germany, Berlin or Kreuzberg, complex issues require subjective distance. In medicine, this process is called anamnesis; a term that means ‘calling to memory’ and describes the required gathering of the history of a patient before making a diagnosis. Thus, we are collaborating with artist/experts from the border between the US/Mexico and the Calais/UK tunnel to interrogate the Border’s intangible, tangible and physical impacts.

This exhibit intends to ‘Tunnel’ underneath the surface polarities of North/South, Citizen/Migrant and East/West in order to disassemble the different layers of visibility and invisibility at play in such essentialist constructions. Divided into 3 parts: Ephemeral manifestations such as technology and surveillance, Material production and the fabric of free trade and Corporal impacts on landscapes and bodies, it seeks to reveal narratives that are usually left out of the white cube and ‘Skyjack’ the very idea of Border.

Rationale

The official narratives of economic disaster, realignment of market zones, extension of war zones and linguistic and visual division are remarkably similar despite the differences of specific locale or even temporal location. Common theories around Border phenomena tend to fall into camps such as the economic/Marxist, the geographic/1st-3rd World Divide and the sociological/postcolonial. While many insights can be gained from such perspectives, the complexities of the Border defy easy answers. Thus, an approach that refuses to pinpoint a specific locale or theory may seem scattered, but then again so is the reality of the situation. The border itself is contested and lived in daily reality, thus it is a mistake to give in to the impulse to determine a unified approach.

Furthermore, although it is clear that an encompassing theory of the Border is not possible, (as previously stated) it is important to note that organizations such as Frontex, responsible for ‘securitizing’ the borders of Europe, operate under the premise of global neoliberal assumptions; global connections are equally necessary to counteract them. Border police regimes travel to different conflict zones to learn new methods of control, as the specific contexts may be different, but the issues and agendas of repression are often very similar. In response to such hegemonic impulses, a productive strategy lies in creating a critical, fragmented and diverse coalition of

artistic responses, as many institutions are following. One example is Culturerunners, which invites international politically active border artists to work in Tijuana/San Diego; we propose borrowing this strategy for ngbk to invite artists from this region to create work addressing Europe’s shifting exclusions in Berlin. These artists function as ‘experts’ who, having worked under different Border conditions can share their knowledge and apply their expertise, sometimes literally. 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? By transposing artistic strategies from their respective contexts to Berlin, the idea of ‘the Border’ itself is given subjective distance and placed onto an aseptic stage on which its ephemeral, material and corporeal aspects can be revealed, challenged or even tunneled under/subverted. 

Confirmed „external“ participants: Ricardo Dominguez ( Electronics Disturbance Lab, UCSD), POLEN (Adriana Trujilo/Jose Inerzia), Hillary Mushkin, Incendiary Traces (CALARTS) etc.