At MoMA until August 28th, Bouchra Khalili’s “The Mapping Journey Project” tells the story of eight individuals who journey within the Mediterranean basin looking for jobs, homes and safety. As they trace on maps, Khalili’s protagonists recount perilous journeys to and from places like Khartoum, Bengazi, Ramallah, Jalalabad, Istanbul, Milan, Marseilles, and Barcelona—telling of a high risk monopoly game that, unfortunately, is real.
…..The Mediterranean Sea is fearful. The wave is so high, some of our friends they die here.
…..We stayed with people we vaguely new.
…..And I found a place to live.
…..Then I found a job.
…..So I climbed through the mountains.
…..My uncle took all my money.
…..I got arrested.
The exhibit transforms MoMA’s Marion Atrium into a hub where viewers sit on benches fitted with microphones before each of the maps.
Bouchra Khalili is a Moroccan-French artist. By her account, she is answering the question of “how to represent an illegal journey?” All the individuals had to leave their starting points but she never asked them why. She found them at transit spots, such as the ferry station in Istanbul at the Bosporus. Each story lasts 12 minutes, the time it takes to cross the Bosporos between Asia and Europe or the Strait of Gibraltar between Africa and Europe. As she says on her website and during a Rivington Place taping, she does not consider her subjects as migrants but as members of a political minority who are mapping their own “resistance” to the constraints of borders.
WHAT’S MY RISK, THAT I DO NOTHING? The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) counts 59.5 million people as displaced worldwide, including 20 million refugees of whom half are children and 10 million people who are “stateless” like Khalili’s interviewees. WHAT IS YOUR RISK? PLEASE SHARE.