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Between borders

Between borders


9 February 2007 - 20 May 2007
At the exhibition galleries on the ground floor
Tuesday to Saturday (including holidays), from 11 am to 9 pm. Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm
MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo
Carolina Grau

Works exhibited

The exhibition gathers a selection of works from galleries and private collections in Switzerland, United Kingdom, Austria, Kosova, Republic of Kirguizistán and Portugal, apart from other museums and art centres in the Iberian Peninsula, including installations, photographs, videos and video-installations.


BETWEEN BORDERS is a group exhibition that explores the ways in which borders define, question and document our world today. During the last twenty-five years we have seen many socio-political, cultural and economic changes, changes in the way we communicate, and in our ability to travel. Decisions about where and how we live and work all the more often concern the crossing of borders.

The artists and works grouped under this title each narrate all the different ways in which people's lives are affected by the borders, by the limits, by the frontiers. From their particular viewpoints they tell us about the traces and consequences of modern-day situations. Territory, displacements, memory and utopia constitute the leitmotiv of the show, inviting us to go beyond the contemplative and telling us about stories and conflicts, immigration and emigration, realities and fictions, spaces and their surroundings, about the sense of belonging, about individual and group identities, and also about ‘no-man's lands' and no-places.

We know the content and we know how to pinpoint it on today's geopolitical map. The Soviet past of Kyrgyzstan underlies the work of artists Muratbek Djumaliev and Gulnara Kasmalieva; Albert Heta betrays his Kosovar origins in a series that inevitably alludes to the recent conflict in the Balkans. The exhibition takes us from East to West, from Orient to Occident; from the Mountains with no name in the Pandjshêr Valley in Afghanistan, captured by Marine Hugonnier, to the Bosphorus separating Europe and Asia in Istambul as revealed to us through the eyes of Ergin Çavuşoğlu, in a border passage both physical and imaginary.

Carolina Grau, the curator, has sought to offer an overview of a generation of artists engaged with their history; a ‘committed' art that invites us to reflect on present-day situations which the artists portray with documentary curiosity and even playfulness, with the aim of representing an experience in order to render it visible. Now the frontier is a nexus for grouping together these artists who, since the nineties, have exercised a critique of the wider aspects of globalisation: for instance, the reality of immigration and the ‘no-man's land' present in the installation of the Swiss/Greek/Italian artist Costa Vece, or the work with patriotic songs from different countries, states or communities by the Serb Serb Maja Bajević. Illegal immigration and the mafias behind it are the protagonists of the work of Guzmán de Yarza Blache, which finds its counterpoint in the interpretation Jun Yang makes of his own experience as a Chinese immigrant in Austria, and in the more poetic perspective of Bojan Šarcevic.

In denunciatory tone, Santiago Sierra recalls history through a series of photographs evoking the main political events of the 20th century. Alejandra Riera and Fulvia Carnevale examine the situation of the territory between Bolivia and Argentina, where the clandestine economy has provoked inequality and poverty. Zineb Sedira blends social criticism and irony in her analysis of linguistic conflicts, as played out in a (failed) meeting held between three generations of her family that each speaks a different language. Language and communication are also the theme of Anri Sala as well as Pierre Bismuth with his particular version of The Jungle Book.

Frontiers separate conflicting countries and are the scenes of displacements caused by wars; they indicate a change in language; and they constitute a geographical and symbolic point of inflection which, with its various meanings, lies at the origin of everyday occurrences. Europe is dismantling boundaries among EU member states while control measures are being tightened against immigrants from Africa. While citizens from underdeveloped countries seek emigration as a way out, increasingly top manufacturers are relocating production to these countries to reduce costs. Šejla Kamerić explores this paradox by situating at the exhibition entrance two signs directing us to one place or another, depending on whether we belong to the European Union or to the others.

In fact, if we think of the frontier as a beginning more than as end, as ‘the point at which something starts to be what it is', we will notice that many of these works analyse the concept of border from the other side. De l'autre côté is the title of a series of films by Chantal Akerman that focuses on the Mexican-US border and which is represented in this exhibition with one of its films.


    Albert Heta
    Alejandra Riera & Fulvia Carnevale
    Anri Sala
    Bojan Sarcevic
    Chantal Akerman
    Costa Vece
    Ergin Çavusoglu
    Guzmán de Yarza Blache
    Jun Yang
    Maja Bajevic
    Marine Hugonnier
    Muratbek Djumaliev & Gulnara Kasmalieva
    Pierre Bismuth
    Santiago Sierra
    Sejla Kameric
    Zineb Sedira

Curatorial text

"The last time I was in Galicia, I drove from Porto to Vigo. Driving along the highway, I expected to be stopped at the frontier between Portugal and Spain, but there wasn't one. For some years now one crosses the frontier between the two countries almost without noticing. But, nevertheless, there is still a border. It exists on the map. It exists in terms of national sovereignty. The laws are different. There are historical, political and language differences. Most immediately of all, the time changes, and one adjusts one's watch, forwards or backwards, depending on which side of the Miño one happens to be standing.

As some borders come down, others are erected. Some of these are psychological rather than physical. They change our sense of identity and place in the world. For many people now, there is a sense of being under siege; one of the ways people deal with the collapse of the old certainties is to enter a state of what one might call internal exile, to erect borders around and within themselves. Each of us keeps within oneself no-go areas, prejudices, fears of the unknown and the unknowable. As well as the disputed terrains of old national borders there are the "no-man's" lands based on psychological differences - of what is tolerated and what is not, what is allowed and what is prohibited.

Works in the exhibition explore how the lives of individuals are affected by borders; from the disintegration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - with the questioning of the national identity and the resulting conflict - to the creation of new countries from the collapse of the Soviet Union, where part of the population survive crossing several borders carrying goods to trade with.

We will glimpse the documentation of the different aspects of immigration in the lives of illegal refugees, from those awaiting deportation to those who disappear in the Arizona dessert. We will attend the creation of a territory reserved for the immigrants and stateless people, and we will see how other artists mix reality, fiction and their own aspirations from a real situation. Other views have to do with problems of communication, cultural displacement and the loss of the language among consecutive generations of immigrants of the same family. We will cross invisible borders, ‘no-man's lands', as the Strait of the Phosphorus, between orient and occident, and the Mountains with No Name in Afghanistan.

Each artist takes his/her stories from one place to another, crossing borders between cultures, questioning the belonging to a place or territory. But actually, the stories told here are about all of us, no matter where we are."


Carolina Grau
Exhibition curator


Carolina Grau

Carolina Grau (Barcelona, 1969) is an independent curator, with a degree in Art History, Universitat de Barcelona, and MA in Museum and Gallery Management, Business School of City University, London. She has curated the following exhibitions: My Old Man Said Follow the Van (Rosemary Branch Theatre, London 1999); Around the Corner (Galería Cristina Guerra, Lisbon, 2004); Contrabando (Galería Luisa Strina, São Paulo, 2006); Between Borders (MARCO, Vigo, 2007); Free Electrons: Video selection from the Lemaitre Collection (Tabakalera, San Sebastián, 2007); Look Again: Five visions in contemporary video (Tabakalera, San Sebastián, 2009), and recently she has curated Un Autre Point de Vue (La Galerie Centre d’art contemporain, Paris, 2010). Grau has written texts for contemporary artists as Angela de la Cruz and Chris Ofili. Carolina Grau is co-founder and co-curator of the Bienal of Jafre (2003) with Mario Flecha, the V Bienal of Jafre will happen this summer on Saturday 6th of August 2011).