Organized by International Walking Encounters/Conference/Walking as a Question, Visual March to Prespa, Fine and Applied Arts of the School of Fine Arts of the University of Western Macedonia (EETF/UOWM), and by Made of Walking (VI).
Supported by Cut Contemporary Fine Arts Lab of the Cyprus University of Technology
Courtesy of the Artist
The Long Walk - walk • listen • create
The Yellow Immigration Sign was a U.S. highway safety sign warning motorists to avoid illegal immigrants darting across the road. It depicted a man, woman, and girl with pigtails running. The signs were erected in response to over one hundred immigrant pedestrian deaths due to traffic collisions from 1987 to 1990. Immigrant smugglers adopted the tactic of dropping off their human cargo on the shoulder or median of the freeway prior to passing through the checkpoint. Once past the checkpoint, the smugglers would wait for the immigrants to rejoin before proceeding to the final destination. However, in order to avoid the checkpoint, the immigrants would have to cross the freeway to the southbound shoulder, many of them being killed in their effort to cross. The last of the ten signs was gone in 2018.
In the context of the installation entitled The Long Walk I intend to place two exact copies of the yellow ‘’Caution’’ signs mentioned above at various points by the main roads near the borders at Prespes. Uprooted from their real political context and deliberately planted in a space where on the one hand walking performances are being enacted/performed as part of the ‘’Walking Question Event’’ and on the other hand immigrants from neighboring countries might be carrying out walks to illegally cross the borders, the yellow signs are stripped bare of their intended seriousness and seem like irrational objects on the verge of absurdity.
The intention of the work is to shed light on historic treacherous walks of past and present and engage artists and audience in what Walter D. Mignolo’s aptly-termed “border thinking” — in other words to create specialized knowledge that can be incorporated by political and art activists elsewhere. The project is a commentary on how border crossings can be transformed into confrontational and irrational conditions highlighting issues of freedom, trafficking and surveillance in contested geographical areas. By bringing this installation to Prespes, a border town, I want to not only raise awareness to the plight of the many people daily crossing borders but also to the actual act of walking which in this instance is transformed from a daily experience to an act full of dangers, prosecutions and most importantly, hope.