The performingborders publication started in 2016, right in the middle of a year that saw the solidification of the anti-migrant sentiment across the UK and USA. It has grown beyond its initial one-year-long project, with artists, curators, academics, and producers coming together to explore and reflect on how they navigate systems and modes of performance-making that constantly shift their goals against them. At the heart of the enquiries, there has always been a strong focus on highlighting oppressive systems but also on how to find points of resistance and joy within them and, most importantly of all, against them.
It was a natural development, of critical and anti-borders thinking, to develop the project from the online sphere into a live context: performingborders | LIVE 2019. For once, it gave us the opportunity to open art spaces to conversations that were/are not yet very mainstream. How do different cultural backgrounds influence our thinking/standing on notions of and lived experiences of borders? How are artists with different cultural upbringings exploring identities within different contexts? Beyond this, it allows us to provoke artists and curators to play with the live interview format either according to their artistic aesthetics or to their intentions, and give space for them to think critically about their work and experiences. Furthermore, it allowed us to also think of the contexts we were playing in (for instance in Manchester, we reflected on the history of the city as a historically migrant and LGBTQ+ inclusive city) and how they could influence or not the events’ contents and the conversation around borders as a whole. The direct influence of the live audience allowed us to include voices in the conversation that the online format has yet to provide: direct, unedited provocations and reflections.
Overall, from Queer Contact in Manchester to the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts in Brighton, Live Art Development Agency and Artsadmin in London, and Beyond The Wall Festival in Nogales, Mexico/US, the project managed to successfully deliver what it had proposed to do: to provoke. Along the way, we had incredible support from these and other organisations such as the Centre for Study of Sexual Dissidence (University of Sussex, Brighton), Contact Theatre in Manchester, and The Marlborough Theatre, as well as funding from Arts Council England. The resulting documentation was brilliantly conducted and edited by Studio Baiba, our amazing Italian/Latvian migrant film-makers, and with support from local film-makers Sagitta Media and Sharon Kilgannon in Manchester and Brighton.
We want to thank the project partners, but also our invited guests, for the amazing provocations, thoughts, acts of resistance, emotions, the wearing of their hearts on their sleeves, and the warmth: Nima Séne, Tuna Erdem, Camille Barton, Annie Jael Kwan, Sim Chi Yin, Dr. Anna Marazuela Kim, Anti-Cool, osborne&møller, Season Butler, Raju Rage, Istanbul Queer Art Collective, Tara Fatehi Irani, Burong, Critical Interruptions, Bojana Janković, Marikiscrycrycry, Dana Olărescu, Kai Syng Tan and Helena Walsh.
And last, but never the least, the amazing Lois Keidan, Ben Harris and all the staff at Live Art Development Agency, Mary Osborn at Artsadmin, Laura McDermott at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Samuel Solomon at the Centre for Study of Sexual Dissidence, and Pelin Basaran at Contact for the support, the dedication and their brilliant, inquisitive minds.
performingborders | LIVE will be back soon.
Alessandra and Xavier
performingborders | LIVE is a programme of events and new commissions focusing on the exploration of artistic practices happening within the UK live art sector around notions of cultural, juridical, racial, gendered, class, physical and everyday borders. Curated by Alessandra Cianetti and Xavier de Sousa.
Presented by performingborders and Foreign Actions Productions in collaboration with Live Art Development Agency (London, UK), Contact Theatre (Manchester, UK), Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (Brighton, UK), Artsadmin (London, UK), Deptford Lounge (London, UK), Beyond the Wall/Más Allá del Mur Festival (Nogales, US/Mexico), and the Centre for The Study of Sexual Dissidence (University of Sussex, UK). Supported by the Arts Council England. https://performingborders.live
Video and editing by Studio MaBa