Über Grenzen / On Borders
21st September - 25th October 2015
OSTKREUZ, Agentur der Fotografen, Berlin
In collaboration with Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai
About the Exhibition
Human beings have gradually settled over the entire planet. No ocean, no desert, no mountain range has been able to stop them. In the end, they even traveled in space and to the moon. Tirelessly, as if this is their manifest destiny, they have worked on transcending every limitation that nature and its laws dictate. The only boundaries they have not yet been able to overcome are those that they have set up between themselves.
A border is no longer an imaginary line drawn to mark a difference. This ends here, something else starts over there—a different country, a different people, another language, another belief system, a different skin colour. Most crossings occur smoothly, but once a barrier has been constructed, it can only be crossed at a border checkpoint. A barrier emphasizes differences via fences, walls, and gestures. People seem to have a natural need to isolate themselves. It allows one to think of oneself as a person who is different from the others.
In Korea, north and south have been separated by a demilitarized zone for almost 60 years, even though they share a common culture that is thousands of years old. In Sudan, the south split off and founded its own state after more than 25 years of civil war.
The wall that divided Germany into two countries for 28 years fell when the global conflict that produced it dissolved. The International Criminal Court was founded when 120 countries agreed that there were values whose only boundaries were those of humanity, and that those who transgress against these values have to face the community of nations when their own countries will not or are unable to hold them accountable.
There are borders that have put an end to war, and borders that have pre-empted war. Hardly any border has helped people learn how to accept their differences.
It may indeed be a natural human need for people to isolate themselves from each other. But it is also natural for people to want to open up to each other, as well. Whenever one person comes face to face with another, he is always confronted with the question of which need he will yield to.
This exhibition tells of this struggle.
18 Photographers from different countries and across generations showcase their unique perspective on the borders that run through the world today. They explore what borders mean to people and how people shape their lives along borders.
LAMO invited 6 photographers from Ladakh to reflect on the theme of “borders” in both the literal and the abstract sense. Probably no other region in India shares such a large border with two neighbouring countries, Pakistan and China-occupied Tibet. In 1947, the pain of separation, as a line across the Himalayas was drawn, was felt by many in Ladakh. In 1961, the Indo-China war cost many in the Changthang area their grazing lands.
Today, the Indian army has an over-whelming presence in Ladakh and one that impinges on all areas of life here. But beyond the physical border other forms of barriers are also prevalent in people’s lives here. At the same time access to goods from different places further accentuates what it means to live in a border area.
Through these images the photographers attempt to share their experiences of living along the border and what it means to create barriers in our lives.
About the Artist