The Mediterranean as a Frontier: Reality and Representation

Article published on Feb. 25, 2016
Article published on Feb. 25, 2016

This afternoon saw the opening of the 'The Mediterranean as a Frontier: Reality and Representation" exhibition at the Seville Arts Centre, a multidisciplinary showcase by 'UNIA arteypensamiento', a University of Andalusia project, developed through 15 years of work with groups of artists, investigators and activists from various Mediterranean cultures.

The Seville Arts Centre (CAS) welcomes the 'The Mediterranean as a Frontier: Reality and Representation' exhibition, a showcase by the 'UNIA arteypensamiento' programme. This is an exhibition project, produced and organised by CAS from the archives created by the arteypensamiento programme, which has been developed by UNIA (the University of Andalusia) over 15 years of investigation. During this time they have held workshops, laboratories and studies in various locations in the Mediterranean basin. The exhibition has a particular focus on two lines of work: ‘Frontier Subjectivities’ and ‘Contemporary Arab Representations’.

The Frontier Subjectivities archive is expressed through the exhibition of a number of constituent projects. Many of them are highly topical and illuminate specific current developments, in which the workshop to be held by the artist Rogelio López Cuenca invites collaboration.

The Contemporary Arab Representations archive unfolds via the cinematic medium with documentaries by Sinan Antoon, Baz Shamoun or Maysoon Pachachi (presented in 2005 and 2006 in seminars that tackled the "Iraqi Equation") and reviews the ongoing devastating consequences of the Gulf War.

Since 2001, the UNIA arteypensamiento programme has tried to perceive the Arab World, avoiding homogenising ideas and encouraging dialogues in order to analyse different sociocultural realities and the artisitc expressions within them. 

In this spirit, the exhibition will use this multidisciplinary concept to demonstrate the results of the completed works. A full catalogue of documentary records: texts, videos, communications, digital images, photographs, posters and art works, produced over the years of investigation by various groups of artists, students, investigators, sociologists and experts from the many societies that inhabit the Mediterranean. They all have potential, under the common denominator of analysis and the diversity dialogue, to articulate resistance to the official stories and geographies.

It highlights the artistic works of Rogelio López Cuenca, as well as works by doctoral candidates from the Seville Faculty of Fine Arts, the posters from the social resistance groups in Syria. Further names from among the numerous individual authors taking part include: Abu Ali (Toni Serra), Javier Andrada, Ursula Biemann, Alba Citlali/Claudia Guadalupe Córdova Rojas, Carla Fibla, Jorge Dragón, Alonso Gil, Fran MM Cabeza de Vaca, Leila Nachawati, Eduardo Romero, Pepa Rubio, Salman Sayyid, Mohammed Soueid and Virginia Villaplana. The groups Zemos 98, hackitectura.net, Aljaima and El Topo Tabernario have also contributed to the exhibition.

The archive's progression through the rooms is based on the concept of the exhibition space as a centre for investigation and study, where works and documents intertwine under the same visual system. The intention is to show a kind of collective narrative of experiences and wisdoms living in harmony. Alongside the featured works, a series of computers has been scattered around the area, from which the public will be able to access the various archives found on the UNIA arteypensamiento website.

In its various phases, the programme has sought out the proximity with Europe's "Southern Frontier", in order to build links between the shores of the Gibraltar Strait and to think critically about migratory politics and the fortification of the Spanish state with the idea of empowering resistance. These 15 years have produced the "European shipwreck", the "theatricalisation of sovereignty" and the "state of migratory exception". Europe has become a frontier in itself, a complex exercise in control and subjagation of the population's movements northwards, as we can see on a daily basis.

With the presentation of the archives created in this area by the UNIA arteypensamiento programme, some materials are propagated that, by distancing themselves from the hegemonic approaches, help us to see the inequalities and asymmetries created on both sides of the Mediterranean in another way. 

The Opening

The audiovisual remix collective Los Voluble took part in the opening. They have previously engaged in various audiovisual activities and projects against the frontiers, be it at the first electronic festivals on the Tijuana/SanDiego border, at Transacciones/Fadaiat or coordinating the contents of the ZEMOS98's Live Cinema €urovisions and European Souvenirs.

Inspired by the opening of “The Mediterranean as a Frontier: Reality and Representation”, Los Voluble have pulled out the archive and presented Borderhack, an audiovisual catastrophe, live and with the idea of projecting images and sounds to "hack" the colonial fictions and fear culture surrounding the frontiers. 

Documentary Film Projections

Where is Iraq?, by Baz Shamoun

Wednesday 17 February, 19:00.

2004, Jordan/Canada, 17 min., Arabic with Spanish subtitles.

Seventy-five days before the United States Army captured Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi-Canadian filmmaker Baz Shamoun tried to return to his homeland after years of forced exile. In Jordan he met other Iraqis who could not cross the border: lorry drivers, taxi drivers and anxious refugees. Worn down by years of war, arbitrary arrests or torture, these men angrily remember the darkest years of the toppled regime. 

On Democracy in Iraq, by Hana Al-Bayaty

Wednesday 17 February, 19:20.

2003, United Kingdom, 52 min., Arabic and English with Spanish subtitles.

A revelatory vision by the journalist and filmmaker Hana Al-Bayaty, providing an insight into a meeting of the major Iraqi opposition groups that took place in London three weeks before the U.S. invasion. The film was presented within the context of the Russell Tribunal cultural programme, that investigated crimes commited by the occupying forces since the invasion of Iraq.

About Baghdad, by Sinan Antoon

Wednesday 2 March, 19:00.

In collaboration with Bassam Haddad, Maya Mikdashi, Suzy Salamy y Adam Shapiro

2004, Iraq/US, 90 min., Arabic and English with Spanish subtitles.

In July 2003, Sinan Antoon, Iraqi writer and poet in exile returned to Baghdad to see the condition his city found itself in after decades of war, sanctions, oppression, violence and, finally, occupation. We are taken on a journey that explores the thoughts and feelings of Iraqis on the situation they live in and the complicated relationship between Iraq and the United States. 

Return to the Land of Wonders, by Maysoon Pachachi

Wednesday 9 March, 19:00.

2004, Iraq/United Kingdom, 88 min., Arabic and English with Spanish subtitles.

The documentary maker Maysoon Pachachi accompanies her father, when he returns to Baghdad to lead the commision that writes the Constitution and declaration of provisional rights, She follows this tortuous process in which he has to formulate the changes demanded by Washington and reach compromises to satisfy the interests of the community.

Exhibition 'The Mediterranean as a Frontier: Reality and Representation'

Seville Arts Centre (CAS). C/ Torneo, 18. 41002 Sevilla.

From 5 February to April 9, 2016.  

Tuesday to Saturday 11:00 to 14:00 and 18:00 to 21:00.

Opening: Friday, 5 February 2016, 20:00.

Free access to the exhibition and cinema programme until capacity is reached.