The Beyond Borders Network is a series of Workshops on Borders, though I note that the work involved in anticipation of the meetings themselves is perhaps as important as the meetings – certainly in terms of creative work it borders on the insane. The meetings themselves have been jam-packed.
In “Sonic Border” (London Nov 2008) we explored the way sound crosses the border differently, provoking a rethink of the border’s location – not just in ports, but between us all, in conversations, in ideas – an oppressive structure of language, meaning, representation, and a cry of protest and the music of solidarity across divides. Sound problematized the geographic and visual location of the border regime.
In “Theatre Border” (Berlin April 2009) the performative, tactile and ritualistic force of the border as staged power suggested we rethink connection, touch, proximity and co-responsibility. The theatrical exclusion of others manufactures a charade populated by demons, caricatures and monstrosity. We don’t want to be cast in such dramas, and our engagement with the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall involved considerable polemic. The conference included a peripatetic component that was documented by camera and mobile DV. Finally, our discussions included work on a theatre production (work-shopped by the Swedish network participants, and subsequently performed in public).
In “Border Documents” (Copenhagen Nov 2009) we join with the CPH.DOX documentary film festival to consider the border as it unfolds in time/screen based media. We were thinking about the telematic border, CCTV and the scanning screens of the immigration check, and the ways film can frame alternative ways of seeing, witnessing, representing, archiving and experiencing ‘the elements of truth’ (from one of our guest speaker Hito Steyerl, 2003). We explored how the documentary form can carry a politic, an ethics or an epistemology and how documentary film and border activism lends itself to the cinematic to film another way across.
In “Border Infection” (London March 2010) we explored the metaphors of contagion and virus, the way borders are porous and subject to infestations and/or prophylactic attempts at security. In this workshop we joined with LDN-BRU who put on a week long gallery exhibition of works made (by our Network participants) in response to the themes. This was a great success and is to be repeated alongside the final Network meeting in June. It will provide excellent illustrative material for a prospective publication. In Border Infestation we also explored a maritime thematic (see picture) in the area around Goldsmiths, taking up again the peripatetic idea from the Berlin workshop, also successfully.
“Border Reverb” is the last of the series of events, to be held in June 2010. The workshop moves to Gothenburg Sweden to join with the Clandestino Music Festival – to consider, reflexively, what we have learned (and unlearned, un-texted) from the Beyond Text opportunity. The final sessions will address the re-verbing of the Border, among other things.