The Maghreb Connection
Movements of Life across North Africa
A screening programme curated by Ursula Biemann
The video programme assembles recent art and innovative documentary works on the systems and modalities of migratory movements in the North African and Mediterranean region. Since the fortification of the European outer rim and the worldwide measures taken against terrorism, the relations between Muslim North Africa and Europe have undergone major transformations. Migration has been drastically restricted and much logistic effort and technological investments are flowing into shielding off the South-North transfer of people. Media images suggesting a constant and undesirable invasion of the European Southern borders are feeding the notion that even greater reinforcements will be necessary in the near future. Simultaneously to sealing the borders, the European economy reaches further down into the Maghreb to draw on vital resourses and minerals, to build huge transit and transnational operation centers and to buy cheap labour for outsourced production. The relations between Europe and Africa have entered a new post-colonial phase.
In a variety of aesthetic forms, the screening features videos that elaborate on the social and economic dynamics of the Spanish-Moroccan frontierland. Many of these projects have been conceived in the context of a 2-year curatorial project titled The Maghreb Connection which opened in Cairo in December 2006. The perspectives from which these videos were developed are diverse and multi-directional: Maghrebi artists who work in Europe, Spanish activists who live in Morocco or take action across the Strait of Gibraltar, European artists doing fieldwork in the Maghreb and Sahel, Cairene artists working on immigration from China or emigration to Italy. Positionality is fundamental to this project. We havent sought any universal space of connectivity in the Mediterranean: every encounter is particular, every perspective specific.
Rather than just deconstructing repressive European border regimes, the screening primarily aims at presenting a visual and discursive counter-geography of the contemporary forms of migratory self-determination in view of expanding and diversifying the public discourse on human circulation, and the visual worlds we create around it.
Ursula Biemann, Associate Curator, Port City