Fluid Borders

Domi Rybova’s art project is inspired by the power of political discourse. For TWSS Issue #16 ‘Crossing The Border’. 

This sculpture is a 2.5m tall paper column, which stands in the middle of a room obstructing the space. A shaky projection runs over it with moving land-masses, words surrounding border activity and the careful vocabulary of relaying history.

Political borders are volatile. As much in their physical qualities as symbolically; they are susceptible to shifts and changes. In some areas, the line drawn is contended and contested, meaning that borderlands are spaces that are grounded in subjectivity. These lines take form in a myriad of ways: shaped by nature, or set by political discourse; existing as hostile barriers, or places of exchange. These are lands of limitations which are rooted in a state of flux but simultaneously hold the possibility of life inhabiting them.

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The words we choose to narrate changes at the borderline are packed with ideology. This art project looked into how we talk and think about borders between countries, focusing specifically on one point in time: Czechoslovakia, 1938. The year saw Adolf Hitler annex and claim part of western Czechoslovakia under the Munich Agreement. The document was signed by the respective leaders of Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy at the time with the notable exclusion of Czechoslovakia. The word “agreement” is a clear political device for it rewrote an alternate version of events, negating what actually happened. What for Neville Chamberlain signified, “peace for our time”, was for the Czechoslovak people the Munich Diktat, or Betrayal.

Betrayal, diktat, appeasement, agreement: how we tell history can dilute its veracity. When it comes to mapping, lines are drawn and redrawn to illustrate a version of political truth. Demarcations hold no true objective meaning, save in their function to order and separate. We become complicit in agreeing to and abiding by these lines, securing the foundation of borders which otherwise would be spaces devoid of meaning. The map is fictitious, symbolic of a human agreement to coexist: a shapeshifting mass, partitioned, undone and drawn once again.

Words, images and video by Domi Rybova.

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