A powerful and compelling set of paintings created for a solo exhibition which was postponed due to lockdown. The additional year has given Anna time to further develop and complete an even stronger and larger body of work. In her own introduction to this exhibition the artist writes:
Borders and Boundaries always have a visceral, physical reality, but also a deep symbolic meaning. On the one hand they might provide safety, security, a sense of familiarity and home. On the other they can exclude, confine, and distort the way we think of other human beings beyond the divide.
While our world seems to be more interconnected than ever, walls go up faster than ever in our communal history. According to Tim Marshall we are living in an age of walls. “What many people don’t realise is that walls are being built along borders everywhere. It is a worldwide phenomenon in which the cement has been mixed and the concrete laid without most of us even noticing. At least sixty-five countries, more than a third of the world’s nation states, have built barriers along their borders, half of those erected since the WWII sprang up between 2000 and now” (1).
Despite the free flow of trade and money, somehow the freedom of people to cross borders is more and more seen as problematic and dangerous.
As a border-crosser myself, place and belonging have always been a central theme in my work. But this became more urgent after it became clear that new borders were going up between the place I now call home and the place where I was born and grew up. While there always was a sense of shared values and to a certain extend a common, entwined history and future, suddenly the overwhelming feeling was one of questioning, sense of estrangement and of being “the other” whoever that might be.
The concern of out of control emigration is for many people very real and reasonable, but at the same time the question needs to be asked what it means in this day and age to keep building more and more walls, when global cooperation is so necessary. People have always migrated and nation states are relatively recent.
The Covid 19 pandemic only made things worse; more walls everywhere, and even higher. Implored to stay away from friends, family and fellow citizens (to see them as a danger to ourselves) the walls extended deep into our personal lives. While we are slowly weaning ourselves off times of isolation, back to more open relations with each other, it is worth wondering how many of the extra border controls and surveillance structures will still be in place after the pandemic subsides. So often walls and fences are more a question of attitude, translated into political strategies.
The dream I dream often is that of a world without borders, fences, barbed wire, passport control etc. I would be my utopia but as reality it feels unattainable in the world today.
Maybe there is no other possibility at the moment to live with the word “borderline”. According to the Cambridge Dictionary:
“Borderline is the line between two different conditions with the possibility of belonging to either of them”. This with all the uncertainty, unsettledness, and doubt that it entails.
1.Tim Marshall, Divided: Why We’re Living in an Age of Walls, Elliot And Thompson, 2018, p2
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The Urban Potentials Exhibition at The RGI Kelly Gallery captures the beauty and movement of the built environment and the communities which inhabit the landscapes of Scotland's west coast.