Several months ago I received a request from Elisa Ganivet to join my network via Linkedin. She explained she was working on her Phd in philosophy and that her interest was in political borders and how their impact was reflected in contemporary art. So we connected and I forgot all about it until a few weeks ago she contacted me again, this time with an invitation to show Keep on Crossin' as a part of her exhibition which now had a name, Borders-Bridges, and a venue, Neu West Berlin.
Victor Payan and I created the Keep on Crossin' Project in 2003 in response to the dynamics of our own Tijuana/San Diego border situation. Somehow it has managed to stay relevant more than ten years later as immigration and border issues continue to make headlines world-wide.
According to Elisa's curatorial statement, Borders-Bridges "will explore the wall as a symbol of the division between worlds and emphasizes the ruptures and stitches related to the contemporary migratory processes."
Elisa is something of a border crosser herself, she is a French national living in Berlin who has focused alot of her curatorial energy on Latin American art and artists. She must be brilliant because she speaks French, English, Spanish, German and Italian. And those are just the ones I'm aware of! One of the benefits for Keep on Crossin' is that Ganivet has had the Keep on Crossin' Manifesto translated into German and French which will give it the legs it needs to cross even more linguistic and cultural borders in the future.
Neu West Berlin is also a very interesting space. It's located in what used to be the old East Berlin in a 9 story building of former office suites which now contains studios, a café, a bar and exhibition spaces. According to their website, the structure "is one of the last industrialized apartment blocks from the GDR-Regime. Neu West Berlin took the initiative to establish an Art & Workshop space in the 5000-square-meter building." This will only be their third exhibition which is to say it is very newly arrived on the Berlin art scene, but with this kind of passionate and engaged programming I am guessing it will soon make a name for itself.
An artist is always honored to get the chance to exhibit abroad, especially in a political and cultural capital like Berlin. But for me, being invited to Borders-Bridges represents something else; the closing of a circle that began 30 years ago when I first read Peter Schneider's The Wall Jumper (1984), a novella about a man who persistently jumps over the wall from the West to the East. The book opened my eyes to the idea of border politics and how artists could respond. Schneider has written a new book just in time for the 25th anniversary of the wall's collapse, called Berlin Now about life after the wall. You can bet I'll be reading it on the flight to Berlin.