performingborders is a curatorial research-platform that explores the relations between Live Art and notions and lived experiences of cultural, juridical, racial, gendered, class, physical, economic, and everyday borders.
Co-run by Alessandra Cianetti and Xavier de Sousa, performingborders hosts monthly interviews and guest posts, and series of related events and artist commissions under the banner of performingbordersLIVE which interrogate the practices of international performers that are responding to challenging notions of contemporary borders with their proliferating and increasingly heterogeneous natures and pervasive presence.
Initiated by Alessandra Cianetti in February 2016, performingborders platform has been joined by Xavier de Sousa in 2018 with his queeringborders interview series focusing on contemporary migrant-identifying queer artists whose work is directly influenced by that experience.
performingborders is inspired by political theories’ approach to borders as methods (Mazzadra and Neilson), by international Live Art theories and practices, and by the amazing work of all the live artists, writers, activists, thinkers, academics, and art professionals who contribute to the platform. From the perspective of ‘border as method’, the ephemerality, flexibility, and resilience of live art practices become a privileged way to investigate urgent current societal and political changes and struggles within and across borders.
‘[W]e really focused on the border as a site of possibilities, as a spiral model as opposed to a dividing line and with the whole idea of the artist as a social thinker, as a binational diplomat, as an alternative chronicler […] So I think that the border method – the border way of working as an artist – implies crossing of internal borders between multiple milieus and multiple contexts.’ Guillermo Gómez-Peña, live artist, 2009
‘I have been straddling that tejas-Mexico border, and others, all my life. It’s not a comfortable territory to live in, this place of contradictions.’ Gloria Anzaldúa, activist and writer, 1987
‘I am located in the margin. I make a definite distinction between that marginality which is imposed by oppressive structures and that marginality one chooses as a site of resistance – as location of radical opennes and possibility.’ bell hooks, 1989
‘Method for us is as much about acting on the world as it is about knowing it. […] it is about the relation of action to knowledge in situations where many different knowledge regimes and practices come into conflict. Border as method involves negotiating the boundaries between the different kinds of knowledge that come to bear on the border and, in so doing, aims to throw light on the subjectivities that come into being through such conflicts. […] the border is for us not so much a research object as an epistemological viewpoint that allows an acute critical analysis not only of how relations of domination, dispossession, and exploitation are being redefined presently but also of the struggles that take shape around these changing relations. The border can be a method precisely insofar as it is conceived of as a site of struggle.’ Mezzadra and Neilson, political theorists, 2013
Alessandra Cianetti is a London-based curator, creative producer, researcher, and writer. Her collaborative work explores urgent socio-political issues with a focus on the transformational power of visual and live art practices that embody notions and lived experiences of physical and intersectional borders.
Xavier de Sousa is an independent performance maker, curator and producer based between Brighton and Lisbon. His practice explores personal and political heritage within the context of discourse on belonging, nationalism and migration. Through theatrical and durational work, he explores the dichotomies between the live experience and agency in the performance space.
The first phase of the ‘performingborders. conversations on live art | crossings | europe’ project (February 2016 – February 2017) was initiated as part of the MRes in Arts: Theory and Philosophy at Central Saint Martins – UAL, London Alessandra Cianetti undertook from 2014 to 2016. Many thanks to Dr. Chris Kul-Want, Dr. Karl Baker and fellow students for their invaluable support, advice, and time for conversations.