Bouchra Khalili

Mapping Journey #2

Date: 2008

Technique: Video. Beta SP transferred to DVD. Pal, colour, sound

Duration: 2' 46''

Es Baluard Museu d'Art Contemporani de Palma, private collection long-term loan

Reg. no.: 922

Entry date: 2018

Not on display

Mapping Journey #2 forms part of a series of eight videos (produced between 2008 and 2011) on eight individuals who are forced, by political and economic circumstances, to travel illegally and whose clandestine journeys have taken them all over the Mediterranean. Khalili made this work by immersing herself into places of transit for migrants in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, where she randomly chose the participants. After the initial meeting, the artist invited each participant to narrate their story and trace it in permanent marker on a geopolitical map of the region. The video presents the voice of the subject and their hands plotting their journeys on the surface of the map, but their faces remain hidden. The formal elements are very simplified, the camera focusses on the static image of the map and the only movement is the migrant’s hand drawing. In Mapping Journey #2, the citizen leaves his native Tunisia and tells of crossing the border to Libya in order to be able to reach Italy and ultimately settle in Marseilles. The borders between countries are the most important element in each person’s story.

By concealing the faces of the migrants, whom the artist prefers to call “resistants”, Khalili manages to reject the forms of visualisation used by the border vigilance systems, and avoids comparisons with the generic images of the communications media, which tend to de-humanise them. Khalili individualises them and gives them a voice, thus reformulating the way they are depicted. In seeing the world through their eyes instead of the lenses of the state apparatus, she gives us an alternative perspective of emigration to the discourse of politicians and the media. Hearing about the lives of those who are forced to flee without documents obliges spectators to consider their attitudes towards migrants and the difficult and ethical decisions contemporary societies must make. With the refugee crisis in Europe as a backdrop, this and the prevailing anti-migration discourse make the artist’s work especially relevant, increasing its artistic and social value.

M.G.

Artist biography