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April 24, 2007



Geographies of the Migrant Bodies

TEKFESTIVAL AND QWATZ PRESENT: URSULA BIEMANN, GEOGRAPHIES OF THE MIGRANT BODIES :: May 5th-12th 2007 - Rome, Italy :: Agadez Chronicle / video-installation (Love&Dissent Gallery, opening May 5th h.6.30pm) :: 3 video-essays: Performing the Border (1999), Writing Desire (2000), and Europlex (2003) :: (Cinema Farnese, May 6th/8th): A workshop on migration and mobility (1:1projects, May 7th/8th).

It all started in Ciudad Juarez, the Mexican city at the U.S. border grown around the industrial parks managed by multinational companies with the approval of the Mexican government. Here Ursula Biemann has filmed Performing the Border (1999) and started her journey exploring the darkest sides of globalization. To describe the border, the Chicano writer Gloria Anzaldua has used the metaphor of 'nepantla', a liminal and unstable space that discloses new ideas, encounters and a feeling of uneasiness. Living in this 'tierra disconoscida' means to experience a state of unbelonging and change.

The women in Performing the Border perceive the frontier as a space of control and exploitation and, at the same time, as a space of transgression from an overbearing patriarchal structure. If gender identity is constituted through a series of negotiations and disciplinary rituals, by the same token the border is the result of the repetition of relations of belonging and exclusion that produce material and emotional effects.

Drawing on the idea that "gender and border are performed simultaneously on the border under very specific economic and spatial conditions," Ursula Biemann has realized a video-essay trilogy that, besides Performing the Border, comprises Writing Desire (2000) and Remote Sensing (2001) - a film presented at the Tekfestival 2006. The latter two films focus on the affective and sexual services offered in the global sex market after the end of the Cold War. Writing Desire's aesthetics incorporates the graphic style of the Internet through a highly fragmented editing which simulates Internet browsing. Analyzing the bride traffic phenomenon and penpal relationships, the artist shows that the Internet is the ideal space for the marketing of desire.

The contradictions of the European space - caught between the increasing circulation of goods and the closing down of the border - emerge in the last works of the Swiss artist, including Europlex (2003) and Agadez Chronicle that visualize the "movements of life" across the Mediterranean coasts. Biemann's counter-geographies show the plurality of migrants' passages. The relationship between migrants and borders is always precarious, resulting from the constant conflict between state efforts to control mobility and the people's desire to inhabit the possibilities opened up by globalization. Biemann is not interested in dealing with the romantic metaphor of nomadism. She prefers, instead, to highlight the ambivalence of migratory experiences. In her video-essay, often realized in collaboration with other artist, activists and scholars, the migrants are recognized as "political subjects" who acquire a voice in their own right.

WOP/Ursula Biemann. Geographies of the migrant bodies is presented by Tekfestival and qwatz, a new artist-in-residency program in Rome, with the support of Province of Rome and the Swiss Institute in Rome. The project is realized in collaboration with 1:1projects and Love&Dissent.

Posted by jo at April 24, 2007 05:39 PM