As the number of people on the move has risen in recent years, so has the building of physical barriers. People fleeing war and crisis are increasingly met with fences, walls and violence at European borders, on the USA-Mexico border, and at numerous borders worldwide.
Throughout my practice in painting and relief printmaking, I have explored the complexities of human relationships, including lesbian, queer, interracial and familial relationships, and the manifestations of these narratives in communities and societies. These nuanced portrayals of personal vulnerability are inspired by my feminist, political perspectives. A core inspiration has been my curiosity about how human beings succeed or fail to engage across barriers, whether emotional or historical, intimate or societal. In Documenting Border Barriers, I turn my lens from the intimate to the global to address the political forces that affect individuals.
Studying documentary reports and photographs, I create individual portraits of specific border barriers, using the drypoint etching technique, where lines scratched into the matrix, then inked and printed, to represent chain link and razor wire, with visceral immediacy. Areas abraded with sandpaper create tones representing the surfaces of cement walls. In order to emphasize the severity of the barrier architecture, each structure is isolated within an impression of landscape, evoked by an under-printing of woodgrain patterns. The prints are each accompanied by a companion text describing the barrier in detail – the height, length, materials, surveillance systems, and the people affected by it. My objective is to document the majority of border barriers in the world today. This growing compendium of portraits of physical barriers demonstrates unequivocally the increasingly pervasive policy of obstruction, exclusion, militarization and violence being imposed in response to societal shifts and crises, and to human suffering and need.