Sahara Chronicle

By: Ana Cornide  

The militarized and colonial power of the imperial border relies heavily on vision and surveillance as its mode of domination. How much one can see, what one can see, and in what way one can be seen are all outcomes of specific visual arrangements that are created and sustained through particular configurations of space and various processes of differentiations along national, ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual lines. These conditions have deep roots in the colonial settler spatial imagination out from which the militarized imperial border has emerged. This paper explores the video research Sahara Chronicle (2006-09) in which Ursula Biemann works with the notion of migrant geography as both a social practice and an organizing system. Her work challenges the representational conditions of clandestine migration as well as the inequity of visual rights (surveillance combined with militarized gazed) by manipulating dominant modes of border representation. Diverting the attention from the present fascination with power geographies and repressive border regimes, her video investigations explore the counter-geographies constituted by undercover operating systems, innovative practices of resistance, and migratory self-determination. Biemann offers multifaceted accounts of the lived experience of migration. Entering clandestine and virtual spaces, she presents an art practice that visualizes a counter-geography of the Sahara, suggesting ways in which artists may inscribe themselves in these symbolic and material spaces. This process involves not just temporary physical interventions into the geography and community spaces, but also the manipulation of visual positions, new settings for spectatorship, new modes of appearance, and concealment.

Border Migrant Geography
2019 Special Focus—Border Crossing Narratives: Learning from the Refugee Experience
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Ana Cornide

Assistant Professor, Spanish & Portuguese, University of Arizona, United States
United States