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Feature: Unbordering is a three-day gathering reimagining borders-free collaborative Live Art practices

Image credit: Image by Mida Design.

Alessandra Cianetti and Xavier de Sousa are the co-Founders and Curators of 'Unbordering | A final gathering by performingbordersLIVE20' (23-25 October 2020). Here, they tell us about the project and the creatives involved.

The time has come to bring everyone together with Unbordering, a three-day final gathering for this years performingbordersLIVE programme of Live Art explorations of embodied borders. After seven months of developing, commissioning, presenting and supporting live artists, curators, and agitators based - or stranded - in four different continents, it is time to celebrate the strength, minds, bodies, and powerful work of the contributors of perfomingbordersLIVE20.

From 23 to 25 October, we are going to gather online for five events among performance to camera premieres, open conversations, and a workshop. However, to tell you the story of Unbordering, we have to talk about what has been happening since March. If you can put aside for a moment the pandemic and the planned failures of the “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” (as bell hooks so eloquently puts it) -  can you really put that aside? - you can see us there, planning and plotting for all these months to create a platform for some of the best minds we know.

Since March we have been building spaces and resources for artists to explore in their own time, with the new tailor made digital residencies of curator Jade Foster, writer Àníké Bello, artist collective Istanbul Queer Art Collective, art critic duo The White Pube, artist Jade Montserrat, artist and writer duo Critical Interruptions. We worked on performative urgent responses from artists who are trying to navigate the current climate, reflected in the international durational performance walk from Amsterdam to Calais by Indian artist Pankaj Tiwari. At the beginning of the summer, we loved bringing back the focus on our bodies with the ‘Returning to Home’ series of workshops curated by Annie Jael Kwan where Annie, Whiskey Chow and June Lam have created intimate digital spaces to recover our breathing, self-adore our bodies, and search for affective correspondences within the queer diaspora. In September we hosted our very first live and open digital events in partnership, starting with Lasse Lau’s personal exploration of queer sexuality in the middle of the second health pandemic of our lifetimes, and Kai Syng Tan’s smashing of normative establishments of ‘leadership’, two events to discover and debate into how our bodies and mind are our best tools to learn about the present moment and look into the future. Finally, at the beginning of October, we are thrilled to present the two digital conversations commissions resulting from our Open Call earlier this year, in the form of Whiskey Chow in conversation with Cassils and rafa espanza, and the riots of short reflections by the group composed by Sebastian Aguirre, Carolyn Defrin, Syowia Kyambi, and Elena Marchevska.

Unbordering came as a natural development of all the collective actions everyone involved in this year’s programme has been cooking up and serving over the past months. We have had to respond to the unusual times we live in and as a consequence, to rethink every aspect of a programme that tackles notions and lived experiences of borders at a time when those same borders have been increasing in their unpredictability and imperviousness on a daily basis.

In this process of learning, unlearning, and creation for us all, we are excited to bring to everyone the newly commissioned performances to camera of Jade Montserrat and Tania El Khoury where the artists will be in conversation about their work and processes; the Collective Works workshop on how to distort borders - local and (inter)national - and queer archives with Critical Interruptions, and two open conversations. One, Transgressing Borders, will unpack processes for writing and digital conversations facilitated by Morgan Quaintance. The second and final one, There Is (No) Time, led by Adelaide Bannerman with the performingbordersLIVE20 artists and writers in residence to explore what we have learnt about time as individuals in our respective communities. The programme will wrap up with two digital presents for you all (and us!): a written response to performingbordersLIVE20’s commissions by Daniella Valz Gen; and a somatic movement video created by Camille Barton that will address notions of social justice and grief while helping us all to reconnect with our bodies.

This year performingbordersLIVE20 has been, and is, a process of learning, unlearning, and continuous creation; and Unbordering wants to be a celebration of the work done together to contribute to a wider discussion of how to create collaborative spaces without borders in a rapidly changing present looking at how artists are affected, and how they fight back. As Angela Davis puts it, “It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.”

performingbordersLIVE20 welcomes and celebrates people whose artistic practice, research and lives have been shaped by experiences of migration and/or borders. Everyone is welcome!

Unbordering is presented by performingborders in partnership with the Live Art Development Agency, Counterpoints Arts, East Street Arts, Queer Art Projects and HowlRound Theatre Commons. Supported by Arts Council England.

For the full programme of Unbordering and more information about the events please visit performingborders.live

Image credit: RE:seeding, in correspondence, Jade Montserrat and Webb-Ellis, 2020

Image credit: Mida Design

Image credit: Temporary Works by Critical Interruptions, 2020

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