Review: Border Crossings @ The Studio Museum

Against a rainbow-colored map, a hand traces a route by ship from Tunis, Tunisia to Lampedusa, Italy. As the marker glides across the sea, the narrator recounts his journey and search for work, which eventually takes him to France.

For anyone visiting or residing in New York City this month, don’t miss VideoStudio’s New Work From France at The Studio Museum in Harlem. The three month installation currently features Moroccan artist Bouchra Khalili’s short video works exploring migration.

Different videos feature stories from a Tunisian, a Palestinian, an Iraqi. The faces of the storytellers are not revealed in the videos, and the viewer instead absorbs each story while considering the squiggly border lines carving up the world. One man speaks of evading the roadblocks between his home of Ramallah to his fiancée’s home in East Jerusalem, a journey which should take 15 minutes but instead takes over an hour. In another video, a young woman describes leaving Iraq for Turkey, and the long years between settling in Istanbul and obtaining refugee status from the United Nations to relocate to Australia.

Khalili’s work is a meditation on displacement and border crossings that transcends the individual immigrant’s experience, while simultaneously giving space to each person’s narrative.

Next up in the VideoStudio series in June, Algerian/French artist Djamel Kokene.

Caitlin L. Chandler

Caitlin L Chandler

Caitlin is on the editorial board of Africa is a Country and a writer who's most recent journalism appeared in The Nation

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