FRONTERES Y APARTHEID; TWO EXHIBITIONS POUR ÉPATER LES EUROPÉENS QUOTES The border is an idol at whose altar innumerable

lives have been sacrificed - Claudio Magris Lorenzo Marsili Fronteres (closed 30th of September) and Apartheid (until 13th of January) are two exhibitions coorganised (together with the Musée des Confluences) and currently hosted by the Centro de Cultura Contemporànea de Barcelona. The gist of Fronteres, but not much less that of Apartheid, can be encapsulated with a heavy statement of Claudio Magris: the border is an idol at whose altar innumerable lives have been sacrificed. Fronteres focuses on the reality of global “borders,” separations between states at once artificial and yet very real, the seat of conflict and mass migrations. The exhibition has a broad scope, focussing on such diverse realities as the walled border between Mexico and the USA, the hermetically sealed frontiers of North Korea, the war on the glacier for control of Cashmere, or the thin strip of sea that separates Havana from Miami. A special attention is placed on the shifting and eternal frontiers of Europe, with powerful deceptions of both the new Eastern frontier of the Union, stretching all the way to Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and the reality of the Mediterranean, theatre to the tragedies of contemporary migration, to intolerable seclusions, and yet historical route of communication between its Northern and Southern shores. The exhibition reminds us of the sheer exceptionality of our present state, and it speaks particularly to Europeans, where it reinforces the notion of a continental “fortress” secluded, in its veil of unreality, from the vast expanses that surround it (almost a regression to Patocka’s understanding of early myth, with its stark dichotomy between the polis and the barbarian unknown). Against the eternal exhortations to enjoy, against the simulacrum of consumption, we are reminded that the real exists; we are put face-to-face with a tragedy that is not somewhere else, in another time and a remote space, but hic et nunc, here and now at our very own borders; in our complacent immobility, we are made to feel like greedy, selfish, petty tribesmen. But Fronteres is a strange creature, between an exhibition and a multimedia reportage, a presentation of photographic or video work is accompanied by ample text, framed together by Michel Foucher’s extensive introductions to each project. Most interestingly, many of the works presented are joint productions where word and image have been labouring together since start. So for example with Marie Dorigny’s and Marc Epstein’s effective and technically exquisite photo reportage on the endless border feud between India and Pakistan over Cashmere, or in The Boundaries of Europe, a video on the new Eastern borders of the European Union where Frederic Sautereau’s compelling images of the diversity of landscapes and of peoples that characterise this vast frontier going from the Aegean to the Barents sea intermingle with the narrating voice of GuyPierre Chomette. Or when Olivier Jobard follows a Senegalese migrant in his odyssey from Senegal to France, in which case the interaction is that between a photoreporter and his subject, and it is as rewarding to savour the evolving relationship between the two as their voyage proceeds as to focus on the social reality portrayed. This makes it a very effective and suggestive proposal, a diverse journey through the overall concept of the exhibition that results in a strong capacity to communicate, to communicate information but also, and perhaps most importantly, communicate sentiments. A peculiar Chinese expression is 意味, yi-wei, or “meaning-taste;” if “meaning” returns us to an appropriation, to an

acquisition (of information), then “taste” suggests an ultimately irreducible and inexpressible “sentiment”, like the burning that continues after a spice has been eaten. And indeed, this is an exhibition that grows inside, one that is carried along on the road and granted power to influence our reaction to perceived existence. It would have perhaps been nice to see a less literal discussion of borders through an analysis of their insubstantial or unrecognised variant. For example, one felt the lack of a discussion on the construction of invisible borders such as those barring off sans papiers from access to employment, travel, and social protection, and that motivate Balibar to offer the terrifying expression “European apartheid”. Melilla, the walled Spanish enclave in Morocco, is the subject of a powerful installation in the garden by Jane Alexander, where high fences, guarded passes and security towers are represented as dehumanising forces and populated by chimerical, eerie figures, half men and half animals. Mellina represents the link between Fronteres and Apartheid, and it is in fact part of the latter, not less interesting exhibition, which accompanies a wide selection of South African artworks from the 19th century to the present with documentary material to reflect on the reality of racial prejudice and discrimination, both in its historical and novel contemporary forms. The effect of visiting the two exhibitions together is potent, and in the end the connection between the “island” of Europe and the reality of Apartheid presents itself in a most compelling manner. We are reminded that, as citizens of Europe, we are called to decide whether to make of our borders mere defenders of privilege, markers and makers of injustice and fathers of Penia—or to dance with our frontiers, rending them no longer markers of social, cultural, and economic disparity, but mere, arbitrary, geographical divisions between administered areas. For a world without borders is not necessarily a world where borders do not exist, but a world in which they no longer serve to divide those who have from those who have not. The opportunity is not obviously lost by the organizers. The last room of Apartheid features a large wooden board hanging over two walls; on it, the List of 8855 documented refugee deaths in Fortress Europe. “Died from weakness after hunger strike and being deported (Great Britain)” “Suicide, hanged himself in detention centre fearing deportation (Germany)” “Roma shot by French police when entering from Italy on mountain way (France)” …… … .