Borders, Barriers, Walls

Tony Schwensen, Border Protection AssistanceWhether they be physical constructions, psychological constructs or natural defences, Borders, Barriers, Walls – a new exhibition at the Monash University Museum of Art from 30 April 2016, considers the forces by which these divides are either upheld or breached.

Delineating this group exhibition of Australian and international artists, Borders, Barriers, Walls reflects on how these contested and complex forms shape the world, producing situations of separation, isolation or thwarted passage across the globe.

Almost fifteen years after the September 11 attacks, many of the works in Borders, Barriers, Walls address the subsequent shift in geopolitics and political unrest that has resulted in the displacement of peoples and the dramatic increase of refugees world-wide.

“The exhibition takes place against the backdrop of the global refugee crisis and seeks to add to the voices speaking out against the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers by the Australian Government through offshore detention,” says Curator Francis E. Parker.

With more than twenty-five artworks ranging from video installation, painting, photography and sculpture, artists featured in Borders, Barriers, Walls include: Lawrence Abu Hamdan (LBN), Allora & Calzadilla (USA & CUB), Karen Black (AUS), Gunter Christmann (AUS), Jin Chul Kyu (KOR), Shilpa Gupta (IND), Guan Wei (CHN), Khaled Hourani (PSE), Raafat Ishak (AUS), Isaac Julien (UK), Sonia Leber & David Chesworth (AUS), Kai Löffelbein (DEU), Ricky Maynard (AUS), Carlos Motta (USA), Tony Schwensen (AUS), Amy Spiers & Catherine Ryan (AUS), Danae Stratou (GRC), and Judy Watson (AUS).

The exhibiting artists share a concern with the geographies that delineate nation states: oceans, air space, land, as well as the modes of transport that enable passage between them. A number of video and immersive soundscape works foreground narrative and emphasise documentary form as a mechanism for personal and cultural reflection.

While Borders, Barriers, Walls is focused on recent and contemporary events, history informs several of the works that detail government policies of restricted movement and exile in relation to both Indigenous Australians and people all over the world.

Through lyricism, humour, satire, essay and documentary forms, the artists in Borders, Barriers, Walls will seek to disrupt systems of control – political, militaristic, bureaucratic – as well as reflect on past injustices, sites of trauma and the importance of bearing witness.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue featuring commissioned essays by Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, and Yanis Varoufakis, founding member of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 and former Greek finance minister, along with a curatorial overview.

Borders, Barriers, Walls
Monash University Museum of Art, 900 Dandenong Road, Caulfield East
Exhibition: 30 April – 2 July 2016
Free admission

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Tony Schwensen, Border Protection Assistance Proposed Monument for the Torres Strait (Am I ever going to see your face again?) 2002, road barriers, buckets, floaties, water. Courtesy of the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney.