In Freedom’s Name… transversal encounters on the borderline

Performance design within a globalised condition of proliferating borders.

The contemporary spatial demarcation of the tension between territorialities and subjectivities forces us to invent, and to move beyond our existing architectural methods and theory.
– Pelin Tan  ‘Transversal Materialism’.

Despite the legacy of utopian modernism, our built environments – actual and virtual – play an active and often brutal role in reinforcing power structures, socially-sanctioned behaviours, and geopolitical cartographies. This paper posits Performance Design – an extended notion of scenography – as an interdisciplinary practice that travels between discursive fields in order to confront, critique and reimagine spatial practices; especially within a globalised condition of proliferating borders that reduce, control and deny mobility for bodies and information.

This is of particular relevance in the time of, what has been named, ‘Europe’s Migrant crisis’ where borders are shored up and bodies washed ashore. The post-9/11 barricade mentality has proliferated globally and exponentially, curtailing our freedom of movement and expression in the very name of ‘freedom’, while utilising the rhetoric of terror as a means of instilling fear of the ‘other’ and begging the question ‘whose freedom are we protecting?’

And yet the borderline – more than a simple dividing line between us/here and them/there – thickens into a complex geographical, psychological and metaphysical terrain that inhabits us just as we inhabit it. As an anomalous socio-political and psychic zone, it offers a transversal space for resistance, enacted through fleeting interventions designed to destabilise the constructed world’s will to be fixed and durable, by concentrating on its evental complexities.

This emphasis on the temporal mutability of things redresses Henri Lefebvre’s appraisal of implacable objectality with Gilles Deleuze’s focus on the mobilised objectile. Positing the barricade as an architectural and social formation allows us to consider its shifting political implications seen in public artworks that are aligned with Rubió Ignaci Solà-Morales’ concept of ‘weak architecture’ as a productively scenographic approach to the analysis and mediation of space.