Video: 2nd prize at prestigious Triennial Exhibition, Namibia by Kirsten Wechslberger – Triennial 2014

‘Borders’, Video (New Media), Triennial, National Art Gallery of Namibia, 2014

This video was part of the prestigious Triennial Exhibition in 2014, organised by the National Art Gallery of Namibia every 3 years. For this video I received the 2nd prize New Media 

Below is the link to the video:

Throughout the ages humans have created borders or boundaries around cities and personal property. The protection of that which we believe to belong to us can go very far. We seem to be obsessed with walls and borders and believe that mere physical structures can keep that which we define as ours, safe. Borders are not just human made features and can be seen everywhere. In nature the ‘edge effect’ is described as edges where two adjacent ecosystems overlap, like land and water, or forest and grassland. These are the places where life is the most abundant.

As humans we have created artificial borders which hinder diversity. An example of these borders is what happened during the scramble for Africa. Countries were divided among the colonial powers according to resources. Humans and animals alike were displaced and hindered to pursue their nomadic lifestyle and seasonal migration.

Enemy tribes were locked into the same country and confronted with the difficult task to form a national identity. Tribal wars followed and thousands of people were massacred. The Rwandan genocide is a well known example.

The 3 minute video ‘Borders’ (2014) questions the usefulness and relevance of country borders and property boundary walls. Ironically most modern weapons are not hindered by large and high walls.

In this video walls and borders are juxtaposed to social media usage in Namibia. It seems the digital world has broken free of, and has torn down many walls. It has become part of our daily lives, sitting in our offices and living rooms, often sharing posts we haven’t even read. How is it that we have so much trust and faith in what our social media friends have to say, (that we probably haven’t even met) and yet so little trust in the person walking down the street?

How easy do we find it to share a political post about raging violence and poverty on the ‘other side of town’ in the digital world. How often do we share this information in the physical world, sitting behind our 3 meter high walls, topped with electric fencing, barbed wire, burglar bars and alarm systems.

Is our ignorance to become active and share in the real world going to result in our own prison, a city under constant siege? Will we Namibians create freedom to share our physical resources, embrace natural boundaries and transcend the man-made boundaries and our ego?

In the video I use different symbols:

  1. Barbed wire and palisade fencing which symbolise physical borders
  2. Smiles that are used in social media and their codes which become ever faster :-), ;-), :), :], (=, >-), :O, :/, (Y) represent the excess of our sharing on social media versus the real world. We use all sorts of smiles to express our opinions on what is shared digitally. Where is the effort for real change in the real world? This why I used the characters for creating the poop/shit smile :POOP: at the end of the smiles bombardment. This was my own ironic comment on the use of social media.
  3. Share button Facebook: Between 2.25 min and 2.30 min the share button flickers in Morse code and is translated as: S : H : A: R: E (share) and between 2.39 min and 2.48 min the share button flickers in SOS Morse code as a silent call for help.
  4. The main sound in the video is the Morse code for share, with some sound of shovels hitting the dirt when digging, rolling rocks/bricks, metal banging against metal and towards the end a session of SOS Morse code is played to support the FB share button message.

Camera angle: Is purposefully filmed as if sitting in a roller coaster that runs along the barbed wire. Point was to create the feeling of being inside the barbed wire, like a problem creating pressure on the whole being.

The film material was overlapped a few times and is played translucent starting at different intervals creating an unfocused feeling that suggests that we are going along for the ride without having a chance or perhaps the will to stop. It further speaks of events happening again and again. Borders are built and broken down.

NOTE: Statistics during a social media conference in 2013 showed that over 90% of Namibians that had access to internet were present on social media, especially Facebook.