This Past Must Address Its Future: Uses of African Noncontemporaneity in Contemporary Art from the French Borderscape

In the last two decades, key sites in the European borderscape—the “jungle” of Calais, the dense patchwork of settlements around Melilla and Ceuta, myriad migrant or refugee camps along Europe’s Mediterranean coastline and in the major train stations of its capital cities—have become art factories. In these spaces, artists from a range of backgrounds are making new work, much of which seeks to challenge the exoticist and primitivizing tropes that, in Europe, have characterized the representation of im/migrant presences at least since the official colonial period. Among the most conspicuous and intractable of these tropes have been those connected with the representation of Africa and Africans in the European borderscape. This essay explores a handful of particular strategies used by artists working in and around the French borderscape and speculates about their consequences for thinking about both contemporary art and contemporary politics.

ARTMargins, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp. 69-80.


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