WHAT IS PERFORMINGBORDERS
performingborders is a collectively run platform for artistic research and creation, focused on notions and lived experiences of intersectional borders through international live art and performance practices.
Drawing from the knowledge shared by the contributors of the platform, performingborders has over the years created a digital and live tapestry of interconnected, transnational experiments through interviews, artist commissions, open calls, publications, residencies, workshops, conversations, events, newsletters, and performingbordersLIVE. All our work is freely accessible online.
Co-run by Alessandra Cianetti, Xavier de Sousa and Anahí Saravia Herrera, in collaboration with guest curators, thinkers, artists, activists and researchers.
OUR UNDERSTANDING OF BORDERS
In both our collaborative work and individual research, we work with a definition of border that is open and acknowledges the diversity of experiences at the intersections of cultural, juridical, racial, gendered, class, physical, economic, and everyday borders.
We look at the tradition of Border Artists at La Frontera (Mexico/US border) and beyond, political theorists, and the embodied knowledge of practitioners that use the ‘border as a method’.
Live Art sits both at the borders of the art market and within a constant process of research, and so creates the possibility to go beyond the space of the artwork itself, flooding into public physical and digital spaces, and rethinking our relationship with borderline concepts and places. Live Art is a lived-in ground always in flux which allows for multiple political negotiations, claims, encounters, experiments , and constant research for alternatives to dominant power structures. Live Art becomes a method as for us as it is a site of border-struggle.
performingborders centers the voices and embodied knowledges of those with lived experiences of borders and those with ties to various global diasporas. We reject the use of culture as an extension of empire, nationalism, ableism, fascism, capitalism and patriarchy, all of which maintain the violence of borders and how they are mapped on territories and our bodies.
For more on our understanding of borders read our Performing Borders Study Guide commissioned by the Live Art Development Agency, London, in 2016. As borders are always changing, so is our understanding of them so please refer also to the ongoing list of quotes in this page as further and alternative anchors and references we keep sharing as a group.
HOW WE WORK
Ale, Xav and Anahi are performingborder’s directors, care-takers, comms people, admin staff, curators, producers, therapists, facilitators, researchers, IT support (although we get help from New Nuevo/Mike who is also our designer), archivists, cooks, mentors and coffee makers. We actively get support, advice, and feedback from our critical friends 👫👭.
The team operates in a horizontal way, ensuring that all members are allocated the same amount of pay and responsibility within the group, whilst also being receptive to our diverse support and access needs. All the knowledges and experiences are valued for the diversity of perspectives that they contribute to the group and how they nourish and inform our collective work.
We meet on Tuesdays at 8:30 AM (😴!) and do most of our curatorial thinking on our WhatsApp chat and zoom.
We understand that we operate in an ecology where border-artists and live art practitioners face intersectional oppression and challenges in both their working and personal lives. performingborders works to create a caring and safe space that starts with fair pay, sustainable workloads, access to support and financial resources, curatorial support, transparency on deadlines and connection to performingborders’ network of partners, artists, and supporters. We work to address the power structures implicit in the arts sector and look to actively resist exploitative practices in how we engage with each other as curators/researchers and how we engage with artists. performingborders aims to humanize the work we do as cultural workers and acknowledges the intersectional structural oppressions that impact how we live.
This work is ongoing and we continue to learn with the knowledge that performingborders can change and has to be responsive to the needs of the humans and non-humans involved (🐈⬛,🐕, 🌵), allowing for different paces at different times.
WHERE TO FIND US
performingborders is primarily based online, on our website which hosts resources, research, art works, performances and collaborations with international artists, activists, organisations, and partners.
Live events and gatherings are curated, produced and/or presented in both the UK and internationally and so far have taken place in various locations such as London, border Mexico-US, Copenhagen, Manchester, Leeds, Brighton and Exeter.
The team is based between London (UK) 🌧️, where Anahi & Ale currently live, and Porto (Portugal), where Xav enjoys the sun and the sea ☀️ (and not the rain and the Thames).
📧 The main way to follow our activities is to subscribe to our newsletter here
💻 To contact us fill in our contact form here
📱Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
HOW WE FUND OUR ACTIVITIES
performingborders started in February 2016 as a non-funded monthly series of interviews and since then has been invited for paid and unpaid talks, seminars, workshops, panel discussions, and writing commissions. Since 2019, the platform initiated a series of digital and live free-to-access public programmes whose activities have been supported on a project-basis by the Arts Council England, Necessity Fund and through both financial and in-kind support from arts organisations, universities, grassroots and institutional partners (see list here)
Alessandra Cianetti (she/her) 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. She is the founder of performingborders. Former organiser at Migrants in Culture. Member of United Voices of the World – Designers + Cultural Workers.
Anahí Saravia Herrera (she/her) is a writer, editor, and community organizer working across the Visual Art and Live Art sector. Through a collaborative approach, her practice explores diasporic experience, feminism, and alternative histories. She is interested in how we can use creative means to make critical perspectives public. Her practice crafts texts that speak to performance, sound, and image, informed by intuition, gathering and research. Anahi is physically based in the “west” but as much as possible, creates work situated in the Latinx diaspora, she was born in La Paz, Bolivia.
Xavier de Sousa (he/they) is an independent performance maker, curator and culture worker based between Brighton and Porto whose practice explores personal and political heritage in the context of discourse on belonging and migration. Their creative practice also encompasses writing, having published various creative, reflective and research-based texts for publications such as METAL, Penguin, Les Cahiers Luxembourgeois and Centre national de littérature – Lëtzebuerger Literaturarchiv. Xavier is a co-founder of Migrants in Culture, Producer Gathering and is a member of BECTU.
QUOTES / REFERENCES / ANCHORS (ongoing)
[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
‘Since the border is always in between and in motion, it is a continually changing process.’ Thomas Nail, philosopher, 2016
[This space is ongoing and we’ll keep adding quotes and references alongside our research work]
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, which Alessandra 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.
performingborders is funded by our partners, Arts Council England and Necessity Fund.
Thank you to everyone who has collaborated and contributed to the platform, for a full list of the artists, thinkers, activists and critical friends who have worked with us, see here.