agnieszka kalinowska


where do the borders go?

Amateur actors with immigrant backgrounds living in the Czech city of Čížov, where one of the last pieces of the Iron Curtain still stands as a kind of memorial, collaborated to produce an artwork that formed the centerpiece of the structure for two years. The work consisted of photographs that slowly became bleached by the wind and weather and were finally taken down in the fall of 2012. After this, it was decided to continue this project, which had been started in 2009, because the debates had since evolved and become more urgent. The border structures between the Schengen countries have actually been dismantled for the most part, and everything resembling a border in the traditional sense has been taken down and sold off. The border stations have been privatized; the annexes, fortifications, gates, control booths and so forth have been removed. Gone with them is a piece of recent history, leaving us its witnesses. While we have more freedom in the EU today, we are also more anxious about the stream of refugees pouring in from war zones and crisis areas and the realization that fences and walls are now being built somewhere else. Fortress Europe is trying to barricade itself from intruders along external borders. It is charging international security firms with the surveillance and protection of its borders, the apprehension and deportation of people crossing over by foot, boat, or (motorized) vehicle, and the maintenance of the status quo for Europeans. Several states are building unpassable walls, while others are considering following in their footsteps. State-of-the-art barbed-wire and security barriers measuring several meters in height protect the outer European border in Morocco, where the “border problem” has been outsourced to a non-EU country. Every day, we read about the rising number of people who have died or been apprehended at invisible yet effective borders – people who failed to achieve their dream of a better life.
The question “Where Do the Borders Go? / Kam mizí hranice?” is more urgent in 2014 than ever before. While it is only right that we celebrate the fall of the Iron Curtain, this project is an attempt to direct our attention toward new borders and walls and to raise our awareness of the importance of a continuous peace effort.
To this end, we invited artists from the Czech Republic, Poland, and Austria to address and reflect on former, current, and future discourses on borders.
(Iris Andraschek and Hubert Lobnig)

Agnieszka Kalinowska
Welcome, letters made of corroded iron, 2014. Courtesy the artist, Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Vienna, and BWA Warszawa, Warsaw.
Agnieszka Kalinowska developed a new work called WELCOME for this project. The letters spelling this word were cut out of aged and heavily corroded metal and then mounted on the display structure. The word looks decrepit and has holes that could be from bullets, while some letters are barely legible due to severe destruction. In the 12 months it will be mounted, the lettering will corrode even more through wind and weather. The artist said: “Greeting someone ‘at the door’ in today’s terms is, rather, a diplomatic effort. It is more a case of the host screening the flow of guests. Those who are happily peaceful and well-off don't welcome refugees seeking shelter with open arms. Instead, they put up signs saying ‘Welcome’ at the border."

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