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The photographic medium has always been on the forefront of investigating political phenomena, recording moments of change, and questioning cultural identity. National borders are drawn as results of political, military or historical reasons, and are therefore arbitrary, flexible, and vulnerable. Unless, of course, if they correspond, which is often the case, to natural borders. Only the great sea, a mountain chain or an impenetrable desert can limit us from questioning why this or that piece of land should belong to this or that country.
And still: Borders are there to be crossed, just as rules are made by their exceptions. The Jewish, the African and the Irish Diaspora are examples for massive displacements of historical dimensions, for the adaptation of old traditions into a new cultural context, and for a longing to get back to the roots, to return to the homeland. Of course, the same mechanisms are at work today, mechanisms to pull in workforces at one moment and to keep unwanted migrant workers out at another, mechanisms to separate political from economic asylum seekers, mechanisms to fence in nomadic societies or fence out illegal immigration. It is particularly significant in this context that the recent efforts to close national frontiers within the European Union were made in order to stop non-communitarian migrants to move freely within Europe. While one historical iron curtain has fallen, other fences are reinforced, or even newly erected, always with the same underlying aim: to stop people from moving from east to west, from south to north, from outside to inside, or vice versa.
After all, crossing borders is not only moving from one place to another, it is also a process of losing, rebuilding, defending and questioning one’s own cultural identity. One’s limits and limitation, if you wish.
Moritz Neumüller
Independent Curator
Miguel Soler-Roig © 2017 · CLICWOW