BY · FEBRUARY 17, 2017

Just as our new neighbor on Pennsylvania Avenue gets ready to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Mexican Cultural Institute, up on 16th Street, has opened a video art exhibition exploring the very concept of borders.

The Institute’s new exhibition titled “Bordes/Borders” contemplates them and their multiple meanings through nine short films by international artists. Together, the pieces create a dialogue from different perspectives and contexts through the technical possibilities of video art.

If people turn to art to understand society’s complexities, this exhibition, up through May 13, uncovers the multiple layers of borders. It questions and demeans the need for borders and their ability to fragment the cultural and economic flow between countries. Coming at a time of extraordinary domestic and international tensions over borders and globalization, the artists provide powerful international perspectives that invite us to think about borders from the inside out.

Florencia Levy’s film, “Paisaje para una paersona”, uses Google street view images and voice interviews to illustrate the lives of people in constant fear of deportation. Similarly, Héliodoro Sanchez film, “The Texas Border”, uses footage from the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition public surveillance cameras.

Both films focus on the effect that video surveillance has on people trying to flee their countries. Sanchez’ film makes the viewer question how and why the U.S. border enforcement has become akin to a symbolic surveillance performance.

Emilio Chapela’s film, “Matamoros-Tijuana”, uses live audio signal from Radio Bilingue, a U.S. station known for giving voice to Latinos and immigrants and social justice struggles. The audio lets the audience step into a migrant’s shoes to understand another perspective of borders.

Bruno Goosse’s film “EXIT”, the only one examining European borders, ponders a world without borders—limitless, with nothing to cross or travel towards.

Curated by Othón Castañeda, a Mexican visual artist and architect, this contemporary video exhibit features short films originally submitted to the Bienal de las Fronteras held in Tamaulipas, a Mexican state that shares a frontier with Texas. The international artists, with their diversity of perspectives, is what makes this exhibition a standout. The films expand the viewer’s consciousness of borders, providing background context from different parts of the world.

Not every film uses physical walls or fences to illustrate borders. Tania Ximena Ruiz Santos film talks about boundaries between the body and nature. Ruiz’s film explores where borders act as artificial processes that lead to the development of identities.

The “Bordes/Borders” exhibition allows the viewer to understand several perspectives and characters, freeing ourselves from our own consciousness long enough to glimpse the migrants’ experience.

Boundaries divide our planet into regions, nations and countries. “Bordes/Borders” exhibition exposes how unnatural boundaries undermine the unity of our world.

These films remind us that even the strongest walls are artificial boundaries that can be broken down through dialogue and perspective. Exhibits like this one can help heal and unify our world, one viewing at a time.

—Quincey Tickner

 

 

“Bordes/Borders”
Curated by Othón Castañeda. Participating artists: Florencia Levy (Argentina); Heliodoro Santos (Mexico); Emilio Chapela (Mexico); Bruno Goosse (Belgium); Miguel Ángel Ortega (Mexico); Carlos Ruiz-Valarino (Puerto Rico); Tania Ximena Ruiz Santos (Mexico); Cristiana De Marchi (Italy); and Maya Yadid (Israel).

 

Mexican Cultural Institute
2829 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
January 26 – May 13, 2017
Mon.-Fri.: 10 am to 6 pm
Sat.: 12 to 4 pm