Border Controls/Border Movements

Hameed, Ayesha and Pourtavaf, Leila. 2007. Border Controls/Border Movements. In: "HTMlles 08: Crowd Control", Montréal, Canada, 17-21 October 2007. [Show/Exhibition]

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Item Type:

Creators: Hameed, Ayesha and Pourtavaf, Leila
Abstract or Description:

n recent years, a new body of work has emerged within contemporary art that they takes national borders as its subject matter. While much of this work explores the complexity of national borders, a primary focus within this body of work has been to document and represent the experience of migrants and refugees across these borders to a primarily Western audience. As such, borders have emerged as yet another discursive space where art and politics meet, engage in dialogue, and clash. Often, what is at stake in such a meeting is the tension between the work of art creating an environment of possible experience for the viewer, asking the viewer to examine her own capacity for empathy, and a voyeuristic Western gaze onto an essentialized subject who is a victim of global forces. In an era where difference, diversity and multiculturalism all become decorative, commercial and stripped of any potency as sites of resistance within contemporary art institutions, it is fair to ask what this new body of work allows and disallows. Is it just another way to elicit empathy from a Western audience through representations of trauma while uncritically engaging with their voyeuristic impulse? Or can it go further to avoid emotional essentialisms and recognize migratory self-determination and inspire social change? The following investigation attempts to unpack some of these tensions by putting a radical perspective on migration and borders alongside some contemporary exhibitions that foreground such issues.

Official URL:
Departments, Centres and Research Units: Visual Cultures
Date range: 17-21 October 2007
Related URL:,
Event Location: Montréal, Canada
Item ID: 27875
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2020 15:40
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2020 15:40


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