I’m writing this at a time when the Perth and Peel regions are in lockdown. Here in Albany, over this sunny Anzac Day long weekend, many visitors are wearing masks though I’m pretty sure that many others aren’t. I’m anxiously waiting to hear the Government’s announcement tomorrow as to whether the lockdown will continue and if not, what COVID-management measures will continue to be required. For the last five months I’ve been working with a team of people to present a major event, CinefestOZ Albany, a three day film festival which was postponed last year because of the COVID outbreak. Now it is at risk again.
Of course life will continue whether or not the Film Festival happens, and there’s always next year, right? I guess the situation over this weekend is an abrupt reminder how strict rules continue to be enforced to manage the spread of COVID. It also reminds me of the rules put in place in 2020 to control the movement of people across borders.
I’m interested in considering the concept of borders – physical, psychological, emotional – as a subject for creative exploration for the exhibitions developed through the Mycelium project.
What do borders represent? How do they impact us?
Over the past twelve months the presence of borders, and the fact that they can be closed and opened, has had innumerable impacts on our physical and psychological lives.
International borders have been closed, not only to people arriving but, for some time, people leaving the country.
State borders are closed and re-opened as State governments choose how to manage the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
Regional borders within WA used to be accepted as a way of describing the different geographic areas of this huge state or of delineating government jurisdictions, but since March 2020 they have become an enforceable barrier, restricting our daily lives in innumerable ways.
As a regional resident, the realization that regional borders can be closed has had the strongest physical and psychological impact. The signs that say “You are now leaving the Great Southern” and “Welcome to the Peel region” that I pass as I drive from Albany to Perth are no longer innocuous. They are statements allowing access and movement which can be denied.
Taking the experience of the last twelve months as a starting point, the idea of borders can translate into many different areas and can be contemplated with many different frameworks or approaches. Areas which come to mind include:
- International borders affecting migration and refugees
- Psychological borders
- Borders between art forms
The idea of Open Borders is to work from a situation of closed borders to a situation of hope, exploration and expansion, acceptance and positivity. I think that, as regional artists, we benefit and grow from being open and ready to explore, looking out with an awareness and appreciation of who we are and what we bring with us. I’m interested to hear from other artists about their responses to Open Borders as an exhibition theme. I look forward to discussing it in a future Co-Lab and at the Alternative Archive Survey Exhibition Symposium.
Sunday April 25, 2021
Artist and Curator – Albany