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Migration Into ArtTranscultural Identities and Art-Making in a Globalised World$
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Anne Ring Petersen

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526121905

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526121905.001.0001

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Migrant geographies and European politics of irregular migration

Migrant geographies and European politics of irregular migration

(p.185) 6 Migrant geographies and European politics of irregular migration
Migration Into Art

Anne Ring Petersen

Manchester University Press

Through close-readings of two video installations, Chapter 6 addresses the problematics of the increasing securitisation of nation-state borders in ‘Fortress Europe’ and beyond, which restricts the movements of people who are forced to migrate by war, destitution, persecution or environmental reasons. Ursula Biemann’s video-essay Sahara Chronicle (2006-7) is used to unpack the general question of how artistic productions can respond to discourses on complex political issues such as forced migration, European border policies, and the risk of reducing migrants to ‘bare life’ (Agamben) in the politico-juridical order. Isaac Julien’s video installation Western Union: Small Boats (2007) is used to examine how the enforcement of European borders against irregular migration surfaces in the artistic-cinematic imaginary. Chapter 6 explores the tensional interpenetration of politics, ethics and aesthetics in Julien’s installation. Using a concept coined by Mieke Bal, it proposes that Isaac Julien’s installation could be conceived of as an instance of ‘migratory aesthetics’. However, the sheer beauty of his cinematic representation of the real-life tragedies of migrants makes it necessary to move beyond the question of aesthetics and consider the issue of aestheticisation and the ethical relation of the artist to his subject matter.

Keywords:   Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, forced migration, securitisation of borders, European immigration policies, politics, ethics, aesthetics

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