Date: Fri, 2011/09/09 (All day)
After a two-year journey around the world that led them from Tijuana to Belfast and from Jerusalem to Seoul and Laayoune, Alexandra Novosseloff and Frank Neisse met people that are living by those walls to better understand their lives. The authors came back from these travels with stories, full of anecdotes and observations that combine the tone of a travel notebook with the detachment of a geopolitical essay. They also went back with a series de photographs that show the reality of those walls, those that are still “active”» today, as we “celebrate” the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. A book was published in France late 2007; its Spanish version will be issued at the end of November 2010 in Mexico.
A series of exhibitions were held since 2008, the first of them being held in Geneva at the International Red Cross Museum and in the Armenian Heritage Center in Valence. Several other exhibitions have since then been organized in French cultural centers (Berlin, Sofia, Mexico, Amman, Tijuana, Mainz, Niamey, Vienna, Innsbruck) or foreign universities (Liege, Bogota, Pereira, Panama) in 2009 and 2010. New ones are planned for 2011.
This original and unusual photographical reportage concerns six different walls and situations, current scars of our open and globalized world:
– The Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea
– The Green Line that divides the island of Cyprus
– The Peace Lines in Northern Ireland
– The Barrier built between the United States and Mexico
– The Electrified Fence along the Control Line between Pakistan and India
– The Separation Wall between Israelis and Palestinians.
These walls are the tangible signs of permanent tensions in our globalized world; they are the witnesses of harsh international news as well as of inextricable frozen conflicts.
Between protection and separation
In the short term, a wall fulfils the functions of protection and safeguarding. But alone it cannot guarantee effective protection. It must itself be guarded. In fact, it protects less than it separates. Beyond security and protection, the objective is separation from one’s neighbor.
Between resignation and circumvention
The wall is first perceived as an insurmountable obstacle. Over time, ways to get round it are devised. The appeal of the other, the dream of another world and of somewhere else better often override the dangers of crossing the rampart.
This exhibition also invites reflection about the walls that separate people, both physically and mentally. It questions the idea of the Other as ‘unknown’, ‘misunderstood’, ‘dangerous’, which incites people to build walls so as to distance themselves, to reject the other so that they no longer have to see them. Through the photographs, it invites visitors to discover areas of crisis and deep ideological antagonisms that are amongst the most complex in the world, all represented together for the first time in a single space.
Through the resurgence, or the permanence, of putting up walls, the exhibition not only highlights the ambiguity of globalization, based on the notion of free trade, but also reflects new security challenges: countering asymmetric, cross-border and extra-territorial threats, such as terrorism, illegal immigration and networks linked to organized crime. Through the testimonies of people confronted daily with the reality of walls, the exhibition reveals the impact that they have on a human level.
Alexandra Novosseloff is a research associate at the Centre Thucydide, a research center of the University of Paris-Panthéon-Assas (Paris 2). She holds a PhD in political science from that University and is specialized in the field of international organizations, peacekeeping, the relationships between the United Nations and regional organizations. In 2002-2003, she was a visiting fellow at the International Peace Academy in New York. In 1999, she was a visiting fellow at the Institute for Security Studies of the Western European Union. In 1996-1997, she was a consultant at the Analysis and Forecasting Office of the UNESCO.
Frank Neisse works in the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. From 2001 until 2008, he was seconded to different UN peacekeeping operations and EU crisis management missions in the Balkans and Western Sahara, as a political-security advisor. Previously, he had worked as a desk officer at the Directorate for Strategic Affairs of the French Ministry of Defence, on Mediterranean and European Security and Defence Policy issues.