Friday, January 26, 2007


I mentioned that I went to an exhibition about frontiers with Antonia. Elizabeth asks "an exhibition of what?" well, this is a good question. You can hardly pick up the frontiers and put them in glass cases. I particularly liked the introductory speech in which the 'mediatrice' told us all that scottish people are still proud of having hadrian's wall between them and England. I decided it might be best not to point out that even if they ever had been, the wall is most definitely not at the border now…it was the end of a long day, after all. But that was not really what the exhibition about. In a mixture of photography, video footage, maps, diagrams, explanatory text and sound recordings, the various stages of the exhibition told you about frontiers past and present, about frontier conflicts, about moving frontiers, about crossing frontiers…and so on. It began with the etymology of frontier (mmm etymology) in which, sadly, no one seemed very interested. We saw things about Europe, especially the Schengen plan and the expansion of the EU, we saw Korea, we saw Kashmir, India, Pakistan, we saw Israel and Palestine, Mexico and California, and the Romany gypsies. We followed the journey of an illegal immigrant from Cameroun to France, and we learned about minefields and imaginary lines in the sea. It was interesting, very interesting, and there were not a bad number of people there. But what I found most exciting about it was the concept. That someone had built an exhibition after realising that although we claim constantly to be "sans frontières" in the world (and a large part of the exhibition was contributed by the "reporters sans frontières"), although people go on and on about globalisation, freedom of movement and multiculturalism, what we actually have is a modern world that is utterly obsessed with faffing over borders and frontiers. We never usually think about it, especially not in Europe. But if you do, it's WELL true. As they say.

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