On June 2th 2018, I – with my companion Jan-Willem Doomen – met Oier Gil and his girlfriend Judith Sanchez at bm196 near Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. We had a very interesting conversation about our mutual border experiences.
Oier (second from left) is an artist and originates from Irun along the Bidasoa-river which is the border with France in the Basque country. He – being so close to the border in various senses – has been intrigued by the concept of the border and its real-life implications. It has resulted in remarkable art-projects -> see his website and/or his videos.
Let’s focus on two projects, both supported by the Bilbaoarte Foundation:
Sauf Desserte Locale, a video in which a sort of bordermarker is driven around (fast motion) in a carrier tricycle through the towns of Irun and Hendaye at each side of the border-river. I liked the marker-design: they should hire an artist whenever a new bordermarker has to be made.
Another project was a midnight’s recording on the Île des Faisans, an island shared between France and Spain with a shift of ownership twice a year: at midnight at January 31st and July 31st. That fascinates Oier. If you are on the island at those precious moments, then you are not crossing the border but the border ….. crosses you!
This picture (of Oier): the island at midnight at January 31st 2018. The video with Oier’s own ‘Rite de passage’ can be seen on https://vimeo.com/247877249
Access to the island is forbidden but Oier told us that at low tide (especially when full moon) the access from the Spanish side is fairly easy on foot (but still illegal). A bit like when we passed the island on april 1st 2009:
with the riverbed being sandy, not muddy.
Marco Noris – an artist from Barcelona – impressed me very much last year with his project of walking along the esfr-border from Andorra to the Mediterranean and making small paintings and drawings of almost every bordermarker. See this post and this webpage for more information on this project and his first exhibition in La Jonquera. I was a bit disappointed by this first exhibition, not giving the exposure and backgrounds he deserved. But in Barcelona there has been a second exhibition at cultural center La Capella with all that I missed -> all paintings and the backgrounds and ‘the making of’ of his project. It has already finished but In a video
(with English subtitles) he himself tells about his project and what it meant personally for him in an artistic and spiritual way. Very interesting and inspiring.
And he has published a book: A la frontera / En frontera / On the Border
But how to get a copy if you have missed the exhibition in Barcelona? That’s a problem. Marco wrote to me that the distributor had stopped and there may be a new one. He himself might install a Paypal-facility on his website to do the job himself. For this moment, you might inquire at the art center La Capella where the exhibition was. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
But there is more to come: “about all border stones from 1 to 426: I want to do the same for this part of the Border, I will write a complete project and I will search for sponsors“. Splendid!
Don’t miss it (I won’t): the wonderful exhibition of Marco Noris in the MuMe-museum in La Jonquera, 40km south of Perpignan. This Museu Memorial de l’Exili is a museum on the refugees who fled Spain after the civil war.
Marco has walked along the ESFR-border from Andorra to the Mediterranean in 25 days, visiting almost every bordermarker and making a (small) painting of each marker. His way of commemorating the border which was once a one-way threshold to freedom. The exhibition can be visited until 28 january 2018.
I was surprised to read about the project of the artist Marco Noris from Barcelona: walking along the bordermarkers from Andorra to the Mediterranean and making a painting for each and every bordermarker. In fact it has already been accomplished on 11 september 2017 after a journey of 25 days, according to his detailed planning.
The artist describes his project (in the third person) in a way as only artists can: “During the walk, the artist will paint a work corresponding to each of the 198 milestones that mark the border. To walk and paint, joining together points along the border, as though balancing on that invisible line that divides in two that which is one, making visible what is invisible and opening up in this way a new stage for memory.”
On his website, every day is nicely planned on a map and we read that he has had an extensive support team. The results of his project will be shown at the MuMe-museum in La Jonquera from 14 october to 28 january. I can’t wait to visit it, a top target for the winter.