Performing the Border

The best fun I had this summer was running the PtB Cafe.. as my degree show in Glasgow School of Art, the menu offered hot drinks and an excellent selection of conversations from which to choose.

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The title of the cafe was taken from a work by Ursula Biemann: Performing the Border is a video essay about the free trade zone on the border between Mexico and the USA at Cuidad Juarez.  It is subtitled On Gender, Transnational Bodies, and Technology and it looks at the exchange between poor Mexicans and rich US Corporations in this low tax unregulated area.   PtB cafe customers were transported to another boundary: the encounter between holiday makers staying in a beautiful resort and the islanders and island on which it is located.

Customers were invited to participate in the same conversation that I had in the Cafe Esplanada in Sal Rei, Boa Vista.  The conversation covered a huge range of subjects from buffet hygiene, to American eating habits, battles with German holiday makers over sunbeds, local poverty, anxiety about being away from home and family, and the importance of just being away together as a couple for people who work hard and are tired, a chance to rediscover one another before it is too late.  Sharing coffee, being part of another conversation which took place on another island at another time.. much hilarity, some sadness, and contemplation about it all.  People in a Glasgow Art Show thinking about the role of holidays and tourism, and about our attitudes when we are the foreigner in someone else’s country.

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