Tapestry Museum, Aix-en-Provence, 2013

Group show
October 1st – November 3th, 2013
Tapestry Museum, Aix-en-Provence

Works by: Ian Howard, Amy Franceschini, Ken Rinaldo, Hackitectura, Claude Chuzel, Stéphane Rosière, Philippe Rekacewicz, RYBN, Gold Extra, Till Roeskens, Dana Diminescu, Nicola Mai, Sigalit Landau, Heath Bunting, Joana Moll & Heliodoro Santos, The Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0 / b.a.n.g. lab., Micha Cardenas, Brett Stalbaum, Ricardo Dominguez, Amy Sara Carroll, Elle Mehrmand, Francis Alys, Fabien Fischer, Lauriane Houbey, Sarah Mekdjian et Anne-Laure Amilhat-Szary, Marie Moreau, Simona Koch. Curated by Isabelle Arvers.

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Photographs © Myriam Boyer

More than a mere cartographical project, antiAtlas takes an innovative approach to State frontiers, whether terrestrial or maritime, aerial or virtual, and the way in which people interact with them in the 21st century. The AntiAtlas of border initiative will consist of two interlinked exhibitions. The first will take place in Aix-en-Provence at the Musée des Tapisseries from 1 October to 3 November 2013. The second will take place in Marseille at La Compagnie creative arts centre from 13 December to 1 March 2014.

These two exhibitions present artworks inspired by the collective energies of humanities and science researchers and artists. Visitors will be offered a variety of ways for analyzing and participating as they enter a transmedia documentary space and participate in hands-on exhibits in this presentation of innovative artistic and transdisciplinary artworks. Displays include photos and videos contributed by the general public and migrants with their impressions of approaching and crossing frontiers.The two exhibitions will present creations and innovative work performed by social scientists who have collaborated with hard scientists and artists. The exhibitions will provide several levels of reading and forms of participation. Not only visitors will be able to contemplate art and transdisciplinary work, but they will also be able to make use of transmedia documentation and participate in experiments. They will get in close interaction with robots, drones, video games and specific devices. The objective is to challenge the contemplative relation between visitors and objects proposed in the exhibition. The exhibition will thus help visitors to experience to what extent they are themselves directly affected by the changes at borders in the 21st century.

Scenario of the exhibitions

Escalation of border security and technology
The fall of the Berlin Wall and globalization process raised the fantasy of a borderless world. However, today’s multiplication of walls and barriers offers a different reality. The escalation of security on land, at sea, in the air and on internet in Europe and the rest of the world has radically transformed the very nature of borders and how they operate. In order to adapt to the acceleration of movement of people, goods and information, control systems are increasingly detaching themselves from territory and creating reticular or punctiform borders, or even being transposed into the bodies of individuals.

Borders, flux and networks
Border control systems create disjunctions between movement of people, goods and money, as well as creating disjunctions between their degrees of fluidity. Whereas the movement of goods and money are eased, that of people is being subjected to increasingly strict controls. These control systems have severely affected the movement of migrants and the dynamics of migration, and have dramatically increased the human dramas that occur at borders.

Controls, spaces and territories
Tightening of controls on mobility in a world in which the development of communications is rapidly increasing fosters the creation of asymmetrical and disconnected spaces and worlds. The exhibition shows how mobile groups as well as researchers and artists react and adapt to these conditions by developing new forms of sociability and practices. The works displayed emphasize the limits of classic cartography in highlighting the spaces inhabited and reconstructed by mobile and border populations.

The incorporation and biographization of borders
In becoming more complex entities, borders are shifting away from being just geographic spaces to incorporate themselves into human bodies. The individualization of controls and the definition of bio-social profiles do not lead only to the creation of new hierarchies that define different mobility rights between citizens and non-citizens, they also give rise to the incorporation of control and a “biographization” of the border. In order not to be identified and put on record through their fingerprints, some migrants burn or sand their fingers; others invent a new national identity, personal history and sometimes even sexual identity to benefit from protection programs and humanitarian assistance to prevent deportation.

Hijacking borders
The state is no longer the only actor at borders. Migration policies and control systems are implemented within the framework of complex agreements between governments and a throng of stakeholders, public and private, who work below or above the state. The tightening of controls prompts the people who pass through them to readjust their practices, itineraries and methods of crossing. When they are not entitled to pass, they are obliged to turn to groups that specialize in obviating physical obstacles (walls, barriers, etc.), surveillance systems (radar, drones, biometric systems), legal requirements (visas, travel permits, work contracts, etc.) or virtual barriers. Increased security measures at borders always increase opportunities for smugglers and the fabricators of false papers. Benefiting from a heightened demand and weaknesses in the systems, these entrepreneurial individuals create a complex social and political economy. Researchers and artists also participate in this economy, to study, highlight its dynamics or disrupt it.

Artists and research works exhibited

Ian Howard, Walls, 2004-2011

Amy Franceschini, Finger Print Maze, 2003

Ken Rinaldo, Paparazzi Bots, 2009

Hackitectura, Cartographie critique de Gibraltar, 2004

Claude Chuzel, X-ray, 2006

Stéphane Rosière, Planisphère des frontières fermées, 2012

Philippe Rekacewicz, Cartographie, 2012

RYBN, Robot ADM8, 2011

Gold Extra, Frontiers the game, 2012

Till Roeskens, Videomappings : Aida, Palestine, 2009

Dana Diminescu, E-diasporas, 2012

Nicola Mai, Samira (Emborders 1), 2013

Sigalit Landau, Barbed Hula, 2000

Heath Bunting, BorderXing, 2002

Joana Moll & Heliodoro Santos, The Texas Border, 2010

The Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0 / b.a.n.g. lab., Micha Cardenas, Brett Stalbaum, Ricardo Dominguez, Amy Sara Carroll, Elle Mehrmand, The Transborder Immigrant Tool, 2009

Francis Alys, Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic, 2004-2005

Fabien Fischer, Lauriane Houbey, Sarah Mekdjian et Anne-Laure Amilhat-Szary, Marie Moreau, Crossing Maps, Cartographies transverses, 2013

Simona Koch, Borders, 2010

Online gallery

This gallery completes and augments the exhibitions with net.art artworks, interactive artworks, pieces from videasts and photographers who deal about the questions raised by the antiAtlas. Artists and works on the online gallery:

Magali Daniaux & Cédric Pigot, Cyclone Kingkrab & Piper Sigma

Magali Daniaux & Cédric Pigot, Arctic tactic

Julie Chansel & Michaël Mitz, La machine à expulser

Patrick Lichty, The private life of a drone

Alban Biaussat, The Green(er) Side of the Line

Romain de l’Ecotais, Au pied du mur

Ben Fundis, Clara Long, John Drew, Border stories

Olga Kisseleva, Arctic Conquistadors

Martin De Wulf, Migrations map

Joana Moll, AZ: move and get shot

L’atelier Limo : Simon Brunel, Nicolas Pannetier et Maya Keifenheim, Border Bistro, Enquête frontalière


This exhibition is one of the “steps” of “Ulysses’ trajectory”, a major event of Marseille-Provence 2013 supported by the Frac (Regional Fund for Contemporary Art). The whole event is co-produced by the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Research (IMéRA), the Aix-en-Provence School of Art (ESAA), the PACTE laboratory (University of Grenoble-CNRS) , La compagnie, lieu de création, and Isabelle Arvers, independent curator.