No Borders

February 10, 2013

This week I went to the Bristol Museum with my friend Paul to see the No Borders exhibition.  I’d seen it before, at the opening, but with so many people there, it was hard to concentrate.  This time I found it more absorbing.

The most striking images for me were those of Yto Barrada, an artist who had taken photographs of economic migrants sleeping in the parks of Tangier, as part of her project ‘A Life Full of Holes’. These are men waiting to cross the Strait of Gibraltar to work illegally in Europe. Each of them lies alone, head covered, having shed their identities in the hope of remaking their lives.  Very moving, I thought.

Sleepers-1-3

Also memorable were Imran Qureshi’s images of blood, blossoms, and contemporary miniatures.

camouflage pants

The best known piece in the exhibition is probably Ai Wei Wei’s Ton of Tea.  It’s a block of compressed puer tea, a dark purplish brown in colour.  I was surprised how small a ton actually is. I suppose we use the word metaphorically so often one imagines it to be a massive amount. It’s actually not much bigger than a large guitar amp …ton of tea

If anything, there’s too much in this exhibition – covering the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, is a tall order. But it does repay going back, perhaps to focus on each artist one at a time.

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