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Life Between Borders:
The Nomadic Life of Curators and Artists

With Forward by Steven Rand and Introduction by Heather Felty

Edited by Steven Rand and Heather Felty
published by apexart
ISBN: 978-1-933347-65-3
paperback, 112 pages

Watch the Book Launch Panel Discussion at Cabinet
magazine space in Brooklyn, on April 12, 2014.

With globalization theory on our minds for more than twenty years and mobility becoming more commonplace, and even expected in contemporary art, it is no wonder our identities are bound up with our own sense of involvement in mobility. We move so easily, and relatively freely, around the world that it has become normal to move to new countries for a job, to live somewhere temporarily, and to adapt readily, all while being required to understand cultural customs before we even get there. With all these expectations and exposure, how do we reconcile our own cultural identity? Life Between Borders: The Nomadic Life of Curators and Artists aims to consider the formation of identity in what has become the norm of a nomadic, migrating lifestyle.

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With new essays by:
Melissa Chiu, Museum Director and Curator for Contemporary Asian and Asian-American art at the Asia Society, NYC “At no other time in our history has it been so easy to travel across countries and continents. For some, this has meant working and living in different cities, or even countries, a phenomenon largely driven by economics and the search for employment. This has caused deep cultural changes, which are yet to be fully understood. For art this has meant a greater sense of communication across and amongst cultures—creating a very different work dynamic for artists and curators.”
Gitanjali Dang, independent curator and critic, Mumbai "Contemporary art is particularly dexterous at this notorious skill of blame pushing. Needless to say, it is not above such relentless consumerism. Market, museum, artist, theorist, curator, critic, gallerist, and what have you, are captivated by hunting-gathering, which invariably covets the iconic or the ultra visible. Thus far, iconophilia has proven unerasable, even when the icon, read Willem de Kooning, has been decidedly erased."
Jimmie Durham, artist and writer, Berlin “Since the 1950s I have never lived very long in any one place and have never had very much money. With little formal education I’ve not known how to find books. They are always paperback and always what has been available in popular bookstores, train stations, and airports.”
Mahita El Bacha Urieta, curator and public policy worker, Abu Dhabi “Every time I meet someone, wherever this might be in the world, I am asked exactly the same questions, almost always in exactly the same order: 'What’s your name? What does it mean? Where are you from? Where do you call home?' I always answer by first explaining my name, and second, saying that my father is from Lebanon and my mother is from Spain. The following question always is: 'Where do you call home?; I first used to enter into long explanations, but over recent years, having become bored hearing myself give the same answers, I started to answer that I don’t call anywhere home and that I am not sure what the notion of home actually means or constitutes: 'for me, home is wherever I might be standing at any given moment, generally inside my own shoes: My home is standing in my own shoes.'"
Mekbib Gemeda, Director of the Center for the Health of the African Diaspora at NYU School of Medicine, NYC “My experience learning different languages has been a process not only of learning about different cultures and cultural experiences but also of forming different identities and a sense of connection and disconnection.”
Pascal Gielen, Professor of sociology of art at the University of Groningen, Netherlands “In any case, artists and curators nowadays are morally obliged to leave their familiar biotope and seek an uncertain but always inspiring Elsewhere. To accommodate them, artist-in-residencies form interconnecting points all over the world, and the earlier-mentioned biennials along with international art centers and museums provide the trusted scenes in which these creative world travellers can regularly meet up with one another.”
Lamia Joriege, visual artist and writer, Beirut “The main thing that I wish to emphasize about the nomadism of artists today is that it is related to both the sacredness of the presence of the artists as well as on the assumption of cultural sharing such that the idea of community contributes to an illusory encounter. I think that we are often led to believe that if these three factors attain, then we are to experience a real encounter amongst artists and between works, when in fact this rarely occurs.”
Sebastien Sanz de Santamaria, Director Residency Unlimited, NYC “When traveling to an unknown place, awareness is heightened as ones person shifts into ultra-sensitive mode, absorbing as much information as possible. This results in having the ability to recall the traveling experience in minute detail. I can easily remember arriving to and departing all the places I lived as a child, in fact I clearly remember all the travels I’ve done throughout my life very well. I can’t remember, however, what I wore last week to work.”
Niels Van Tomme, Curator, researcher, and art critic, NYC “Migrants who are thrown into an uncertain and unpredictable future experience the above-discussed issues, as explored indirectly in the works by Damir Nikšić and Claire Fontaine, on a day-to-day basis. For them this is not about an aesthetic understanding, but the reality of their daily life. The broader question I would like to address is how such radical experiences of exclusion (Damir Nikšić) and antagonism (Claire Fontaine) can relate to the new nomadic lifestyle of art workers who often refer to the migrant paradigm—and its supposed “hybridity,” as quoted earlier by Žižek—as a prerequisite for their own lives.”
Yannis Ziogas, artist and author, Athens and Florina, Greece “The incidents of the Visual March to Prespes process can be separated between those that are related to an actuality and those related to the way the individual interprets reality. They are all characterized from the contrast between a sense of paradise that the landscape environment provides and the hidden stories that are widespread. The main danger of the process was the option of changing identity: working in a nomadic process is removing oneself from previous certainties.”

"The authors of the essays collected in this book explore and demonstrate
this ambiguity of nomadism in a sincere and persuasive way."
- Boris Groys

"At last, a collection of essays from a broad spectrum of authors that takes an unsparing
yet balanced look at the mainstream artworld's irresistible ability to turn the lives
of the artists and curators who are its protagonists into perpetual-motion machines."
- Stephen Wright

"Being nomad is something that happens in life."
- Hou Hanru

"Life Between Borders required reading and underscores its connection to apexart's
astute series of publications examining global conditions for art production and exhibition."
- Kristine Stiles

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