Border Controls/Border Movements

by Ayesha Hameed and Leila Pourtavaf

{excerpt:} In recent years, a new body of work has emerged within contemporary art that they takes national borders as its subject matter. While much of this work explores the complexity of national borders, a primary focus within this body of work has been to document and represent the experience of migrants and refugees across these borders to a primarily Western audience. As such, borders have emerged as yet another discursive space where art and politics meet, engage in dialogue, and clash. Often, what is at stake in such a meeting is the tension between the work of art creating an environment of possible experience for the viewer, asking the viewer to examine her own capacity for empathy, and a voyeuristic Western gaze onto an essentialized subject who is a victim of global forces. In an era where difference, diversity and multiculturalism all become decorative, commercial and stripped of any potency as sites of resistance within contemporary art institutions, it is fair to ask what this new body of work allows and disallows. Is it just another way to elicit empathy from a Western audience through representations of trauma while uncritically engaging with their voyeuristic impulse? Or can it go further to avoid emotional essentialisms and recognize migratory self-determination and inspire social change? The following investigation attempts to unpack some of these tensions by putting a radical perspective on migration and borders alongside some contemporary exhibitions that foreground such issues.

Border crossings: context and the social practice of genre on the web

by Corina MacDonald

{excerpt:} The purpose of this paper is to examine the ways in which the medium of the web alters notions of genre, community and border and how the spatial metaphor informs our understanding of these changes. We consistently evoke spatial metaphors to describe our relationships to networked information resources, conceptualizing a framework of spaces and architectures requiring navigation. Within this analogy, border resources are those which mediate between the fluctuating center and periphery of context in any information space. It is the establishment of context which allows us to meaningfully traverse and interpret the fluid interstices of meaning that occur in such spaces. In the analog world, document features serve as border resources in such familiar forms as page layout, typeface and tables of contents. These enable delineation between genres and communities. In the digital realm, border resources have often borrowed from their analog antecedents in form and function; however, it is evident that this simulation is superfluous in a medium which continues to reveal unprecedented contexts.

grieving / separated from Ayles Ice Shelf

by John D. Brannan

{summary:}Mr Brannan reflects upon the highly disputed predictions activists made surrounding global warming in the late twentieth century and relates the realities of those assertions to Irene Loughlin’s performance Grieving / Separated from Ayles Ice Shelf, first presented at the You Me Gallery in Hamilton, Ontario in 2005. A brief deconstruction of the performative piece describes the rich symbolism that references the separation of the Ayles Ice Shelf from the northern coast of Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, and contemplates an expression of helplessness, shock, and earnest protest.