Media Arts Program

Friday, July 25, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.

/The Imaginary Line/ co-presented by Hallwalls, the Buffalo Arts Studio and El Museo.

Ursula Biemann

PERFORMING THE BORDER: Video Essays by Ursula Biemann

In recent years, Swiss artist Ursula Biemann has produced a wide variety of works that investigate issues of mobility, technology and identity. As a theorist, curator and artist, she has taken up the questions surrounding migration, maintaining, "Location is spatially produced rather than pre-determined by governance." Her experimental video essay Performing the Border (1999) is set in Ciudad Juarez, situated across the border from El Paso, Texas, where many U.S. industries hire Mexican workers to assemble digital equipment and electronics. Using interviews with women factory workers and prostitutes, scripted voice over, and found footage, Biemann explores topics such as divisions of labor and sexual violence in order to document the gendered conditions of this border town. In Europlex (2003), made in collaboration with visual anthropologist Angela Sanders, Biemann documents the daily, sometimes illicit, border crossings of "domesticas" who traverse Spain and Morocco. With a mesmerizing soundtrack and a collage of digital graphics and texts, Biemann effectively highlights the surreal "time travel" that occurs when these migrants step back in time as they enter Europe. Both video essays survey the feminization of the global economy, and by focusing on the activities that occur at the periphery of these transnational zones, demonstrate the ways in which these spaces are enacted.

Ursula Biemann (b. 1955, Zürich) studied art and cultural theory in Mexico, at the School of Visual Arts and the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York City. Her work has been exhibited widely at international biennales. She is the author of the artist book Been There and Back to Nowhere—Gender in Transnational Spaces (2000). In 2003 she curated the exhibition Geography and the Politics of Mobility in Vienna. She is a researcher at the Institute for Theory of Art and Design at HGK ZÜrich and lectures at the CCC program of the Arts Academy in Geneva. Her videos are distributed in the United States by Women Make Movies.

Some publications related to this event:
June, July and August, 2008 - 2008