Perspective #9: Borders of many types, porous through many means

A perspective on the exhibition of VIDEONALE.19

Borders often emerge where the “other” is hypothesized to begin. These applied demarcations reveal a space just beyond the self, and can further extend to incorporate additionally linked selves that form groups with alleged shared criteria of identity formation. At times this involves choice and is mutually beneficial community building, but many times it does not and is inherited with trauma. At the level of nation states, border making is the act of carving up land with invisible lines that turn into fixed ones on maps. These lines do not change, that is until they inevitably do. As borders scale up over time from individual experience to the shaky collective ground of nation states, they become bureaucratic and weaponized against perceived others, projections of threats from without. What can truly be known about borders (on many levels) is that as much as they seem rigid, upon their declaration they are immediately porous and traversable in a myriad of ways (official and unofficial).

Exhibitions are built up environments in which maps can be useful for navigation. However, there is rarely a suggested order for experiencing artworks. Sometimes layout and architectural frameworks (un)intentionally guide the visitor’s choices of movement. Mostly visitors are unencumbered by directionality and can choose which works to engage with in whichever order they wish. The selection of works for this perspective on the Videonale.19 attempts to hold onto this open navigation feeling with only a subtle gesture of guidance: the rather broad link of borders, of many types, and their porousness, through many means. Please engage in any order and feel free to stray from this loose multi-directional path into further discoveries.

Each of the works in this selection is its own unique constellation. Some of them share stars, that is to say points of relation, nodes of solidarity. Explored topics include: confronting rigid nation-state borders and circumnavigating them; Indigenous resilience and self determination against histories/presents of colonization; gender fluidity as a form of travel to oneself; strength of immigrant experiences in defiance of racism and xenophobia, finding one’s home within the inbetween; individually asserted borders of identity as boundaries of protection.

Erik Martinson

If you want to experience this perspective, please have a look at the following works, in no particular order:

Maija Blåfield | The Fantastic
Felipe Castelblanco & Lydia Zimmermann (In cooperation with Ñambi Rimai Media Collective) | AYÊNAN: Territorios de Agua
Ji Su Kang-Gatto | Vlog #8998 | Korean Karottenkuchen & Our Make-up Routine
Julian Quentin | Territory
Federico Cuatlacuatl Teles | Tiemperos del Antropoceno: TOLCHIKAUALISTLI

*This perspective was curated for the VIDEONALE.19 exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Bonn. As not all works selected for this perspective may be shown in the online archive, the programme can unfortunately only be viewed incompletely.

About the person

Erik Martinson is an independent curator and writer. His projects have been hosted by institutions such as Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; LUX, London; Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia, Tallinn; Cubitt Gallery, London;Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo; Rupert, Vilnius; Kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga; and CPR², New York.

Image Credit: Federico Cuatlacuatl Teles, Tiemperos Del Antropoceno: TOLCHIKAUALISTLI, 2021 © David Morales

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