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Chapter 4 Post-Border? As this book has argued, border art has initiated a broader dialogue with art about other international borders. This is especially the case with works that address the subjects of migration, cultural mapping, diaspora, and transnationalism. This situation is not limited to the U.S.-Mexico border. Biennial culture has celebrated artists whose work considers these issues. Artists such as Palestinian-born Mona Hatoum extend the terms of border art to other regions around the globe. By taking into account the much earlier developments inaugurated by artists active in the U.S.-Mexico border region, we can understand Hatoum and her work within a larger border framework. Her 2006 Hot Spot “maps the whole world, everywhere and nowhere, simultaneously.”1 The title is a play on geology (a literal volcanic “hot spot”) and geopolitics (contested sites). Mapping is the consequence of an anxiety of home. The further away from it you move, the more you crave a return and seek to configure it through recourse to a map or a thread that will lead you back to this point of origin. But the place is elusive; it will never be the same from the moment you leave it. There is no return. Instead, home is henceforth displaced, temporary, and defined in terms of where one is not.2 Hatoum describes the situation of the border dweller, which I mentioned in the introduction. Like Pico Iyer’s description of the constant global traveler, Hatoum’s persona reflects the nature of twenty-first-century border crossings. Unlike Iyer’s jaded world citizen, however, Hatoum’s works describe a more disjunctive scenario in which the comforts and familiarity of “home” can never be attained. This situation reflects reality for a different set of people, including political refugees and those displaced by natural phenomena. Hatoum’s Routes series (2002–2008) maps the world in terms of airline Sheren pages.indd 120 4/21/15 3:22 PM Post-Border? | 121 flight routes. Using maps provided by the airlines, she colored the spaces between intersecting flight paths. The results are images that fragment the map, casting a wildly uneven grid, or even a net, over nations and continents . National boundaries are redrawn in terms of the flow of people from one place to another. Hatoum’s work and her characterization of the constant migrant link closely with the situation of the Sydney Indochinese refugees chronicled in the BAW/TAF’s 1993 biennial project, as well as many undocumented Mexican and Central American workers living in the United States. This state of being has also come to define the nomadic biennial artist as well. Documenta XI, held in 2002 in Kassel, Germany, set out to encompass a global definition of borders and interrogate the twenty-first-century nature of the term. Projects from Chantal Akerman and Pavel Braila explicitly made reference to international borders, and Indian-born artist Amar Kanwar showed his film, A Season Outside (1997). This film, a personal exploration of the separation of India and Pakistan , opens with a scene of the Wagah border closing ceremony.3 The city of Wagah,with its ceremonial border crossing station,marks the only point at which the border between the two countries opens. Since 1959, each day concludes with a ceremonial lowering of the national flags. The performance , watched each evening by cheering crowds, centers on an exaggerated display of military pomp and circumstance.4 Pakistani and Indian guards stomp fiercely in choreographed mock aggression, and finally, the two flags are lowered at the exact same rate. The performance concludes with quick handshakes all around and the closing of the gates for the evening . The Wagah ceremony presents much for interpretation. The soldiers are engaged in a form of theater; their aggression is only a show, feigned for the pleasure of the audience. Of importance is the fact that unlike Telléz’s One Flew over the Void, Jaar’s The Cloud, or the BAW/TAF’s End of the Line, the Wagah ceremony is not one of border crossing, but of performative closing. By shutting the gates at the end of the day, the troops perform the very meaning of border. This reflects the nature of the India-Pakistan border itself. It is not a porous postmodern situation, but a closed-off boundary enforced by the military. The Wagah soldiers play out national aggressions on a human scale. Every evening, they re-enact the conflict of India and Pakistan, emphasizing the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781477302279
Related ISBN
9781477302262
MARC Record
OCLC
910916337
Pages
211
Launched on MUSE
2015-06-10
Language
English
Open Access
No
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