Disruptive Fridays #15 · Colonial Borders & Counter Archives
On the 15th and last Disruptive Fridays episode of this year, Disruption Network Lab invited Lauren Alexander & Ghalia Elsrakbi of Foundland Collective and Daniela Ortiz in a follow up conversation for Disruption Network Lab’s 21st conference BORDERS OF FEAR: Migration, Security and Control (November 27-29).
In the conversation, Foundland collective speaks about their artistic practice in creating personal “Counter-archives” by means of alternative storytelling and documenting underrepresented narratives of migration, conflict, loss and memory. Daniela Ortiz addressed her work with visual narratives on borders as a colonial discourse and critically reflects on migration control systems and its legal structure.
Lauren Alexander & Ghalia Elsrakbi
Foundland Collective was formed in 2009 by South African Lauren Alexander and Syrian Ghalia Elsrakbi and since 2014 the collective is based between Amsterdam and Cairo. The duo collaboration explores underrepresented political and historical narratives by working with archives via art, design, writing, educational formats, video making and storytelling. Throughout their development, the duo has critically reflected upon what it means to produce politically engaged work from their position as non-Western artists working between Europe and the Middle East. From their artist statement: “Increasingly, we find it important to continue highlighting marginalized perspectives and keep experimenting with slower, inclusive formats for collection, translation and interpretation. By generating and caring for ‘counter-archives’ as a mode of working, we aim to resist and stay critical towards hasty and manipulative modes of communication. In a world where media sadly functions as a way to provoke hate and xenophobia, we believe in making visible an understanding of our interconnected geopolitical responsibilities.”
Foundland Collective was awarded the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship for research in the largest Arab American archive in 2015, the outcome of which was presented as video installation at Centre Pompidou in Paris (2017) and their short video, “The New World, Episode One” premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival (2018). The duo have lectured and exhibited internationally including at ISPC, New York, Ars Electronica, Linz, Impakt Festival, BAK, Utrecht, London Art Fair, Beursschouwburg, Brussels, Fikra Biennial, Sharjah and Tashweesh Feminist Festival, Cairo and Brussels. They have been shortlisted for the Dutch Prix de Rome prize in 2015 and Dutch Design Awards in 2016. Foundland’s short video works are preserved and distributed by Dutch media art archive LIMA in Amsterdam.
Through her work, she aims to generate visual narratives in which the concepts of nationality, racialization, social class and genre are explored so as to critically understand structures of colonial, patriarchal and capitalist power. Her recent projects and research deal with the European migratory control system, its links to colonialism and the legal structure created by European institutions in order to inflict violence on racialized and migrant communities. She has also developed projects about the Peruvian upper class and its exploitative relationship with domestic workers. Recently, her artistic practice has reverted to visual and manual work, developing artworks in ceramic, collage and formats such as children’s books in order to shift away from the aesthetics of Eurocentric conceptual art.
Apart from her artistic practice, she is the mother of a three-year-old, she gives talks, holds workshops, carries out investigations and participates in discussions on Europe’s migratory control system and its ties to coloniality in various contexts.
Nada Bakr is an independent curator, researcher, and cultural manager. Her research-driven projects straddle the fields of visual arts, digital culture and networked activism, and unfold between Berlin and Cairo. Nada is Community and Project Manager at Disruption Network Lab, Berlin, and Managing Director and Co-Curator of Cairotronica.
Photo Courtesy of the organisation