Fronteriz@s_(re)imagining borders through art


In this globalized society, we are seeing the re-conceptualization of ideas and practices as societies become ever more integrated and the borders blur. Yet, simultaneously, we are also seeing the mass production of walls at an alarming rate.

Comandanta Wendy Brown (2010) describes this paradox as a theatrical performance of power by nation states who are managing their image of sovereignty or better yet the impotency of their sovereignty. Since borders bind and invent societies, nation-states are desperate to maintain their inside/outside distinction while a transnational capital, ideas, practices, and, more troublesome, people transgress their walls. For brown, these visual signifiers. However, it is just as important to discuss other visual signifiers that are oftentimes not as visual. Those that hide, blend, and adapt within hegemonic constructs of real or perceived societal norms.

Metaphysical borders also have the tendency to mimic physical ones by creating inside/outside distinctions. These distinctions are between different “inside” populations along different divides, such as, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, ideology and class, which can also lead to physical border within other physical borders.

Artistic expressions are powerful tools to bridge these distinctions and (re) imagine these borders. As you know, artistic expressions are not solely for entertainment. Plato understood this power when he called for the banishment of all poets. Past comandntes Brecth, Boal and Buenaventura turned to theater to raise the consciousness of the masses and inspire action. Comandante Boal actually positioned theater as the rehearsal for the revolution. With Comandante Thiong’o, we saw the impact of theater as the audience poured out into the streets after a performance to stage their own on the very streets where the English massacred fellow Kenyans a generation before. The play was on their fight for independence from the English.As Comandante Jesusa commented in a communique, ….

Mexico is no exception as borders and art converge, often times violently, between the nation-state and other guerrillartes in an effort to pull the curtain of these theatrical performances of power and reveal them for what they are, unjust, oppressive, and archaic borders.

For this debriefing, Mexico will act as an instrumental case study to examine the use of artistic expression as resistance to (re) imagine both physical and metaphysical borders. Although many, we are going to focus on four specific artistic forms (music, film, murals and theater) and their role at both international Mexican borders (US and Guatemala), in the Zapatista insurrection, and at navigating gender roles in Chiapas indigenous communities.

In doing, we hope to provide you with the necessary skills sets and the inspiration to act when you return to your sites of resistance within the Clandestine Transgalactic Resistance (ClaTRES) Network.

Before we get started, we must ask ourselves:
1.    What is the role of artistic expressions in deconstructing, navigating and creating physical, and metaphysical borders within Mexico?
2.    How do counter hegemonic discourses unfold through art that resist these multiple borders?

According to Fraser (1992), a subaltern counterpublic spheres is, “a space protected from the dominant discourse in which an alternative can be imagined, lived, and articulated” (112). In so doing, the grassroots community formulates oppositional interpretations of their identities, interests, and needs or counterdiscourses in these parallel discursive arenas (Fraser, 1997, p81). Similarly, Kohn (2001) adds that in subaltern counterpublic spheres, “groups can develop the resources to present a consistent challenge to dominate practices” (507).  In Bolivia, Stephenson (2002) discusses the development of these resources by the Taller de Historia Oral Andina in Bolivia, an indigenous support group for women. The workshops became, “a site for formulating, and expressing alternative ways of knowing, thereby legitimizing the cultural and political right to difference” (104).

In this debriefing, you will learn to transform physical spaces, such as classrooms, theaters, cafes, galleries, streets, and this one, the library of Na Bolom, as we learn ways to speak to power and (re) imagine other worlds possible.

Group members: Juan Gabriel Berumen, Joshua Javier Guzmán, Isabela Raygoza, Alejandro Rodriguez