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An Explosive Encounter for Exploded Maps

25.04.2014 by Brigitte Vasallo

Photo by Julio Albarrán (cc)

Is it possible to tear down borders and at the same time maintain them in our collective processes? Can we debate binary constructions even if we work within them? Can we remap Europe without dismantling each and every one of our own personal maps?

The ZEMOS98 festival is a kaleidoscope in which all the small pieces recombine to form different patterns with each tiny shift; it is an Escher drawing in which the coexistence of many different perspectives totally confuses the observer. It is a space of engagement: a snare that you fall into, forcing you to come face to face with yourself. Forcing you to move. It is a maze of readings in which there are no boundaries between inside and outside, between signifier and signified, between the narrator, the narrative and narrated, in which we all create and are created at the same time. It is an encounter that revolves around borders and blows them to smithereens, here and now, with an explosive methodology for exploded maps.

#RemappingEurope through cut and paste

The methodologies used at ZEMOS98 are not just part of a process, they are the festival itself. A group of people from different backgrounds and scenes, with diverse skills and points of views and divergent certainties, have been brought together (remixed?) and asked to translate/apply instructions such as: “remap Europe” and “hack the veil”. We were assembled in a space and put to work side by side, horizontally, ignoring boundaries between different disciplines and breaking down the hierarchies between academia, art, activism, communication.... in order to think collectively and explain our ideas by means of cut-and-paste, using scissors and glue sticks, coloured markers, a shared, stammering language that none of us were fluent in. By cutting out, pasting, and colouring in, we escaped our comfort zones: our discourses, state-of-the-art multimedia products, debates, assemblies. Thinking means moving, weighing ourselves against the unimagined (to remix Santiago López Petit, too). Thinking together necessarily requires us to create new languages; to include the other so as to understand that the other does not exist.

Inner borders

Incorporating new points of view does not reduce your outlook, it expands it. That’s what Juan Luis Sánchez said in reference to feminism, one of the recurring themes that provided a thread over the past few days. By integrating the feminist gaze, the post-colonial gaze or class analysis we do not shrink our field of vision, we make it bigger and more inclusive: it is a way of tearing down some of the innumerable veils of hegemony that cloud our vision, that create borders of prejudices, of things outside of thought, of misunderstandings in which we run aground. Borders that make us self-absorbed. Thinking means moving: it means expanding, adding new facets to this ineffable polyhedron in which we live and acquire meaning. Lounging on a lawn in an almost-summery Seville, Julia Mondadeira concluded: “there is no such thing as outside the system”.

“Borders are not external. The system itself is the border,” agreed Toni Serra.

Each and every one of us is the border.

There is no border to jump: our only option many be to dismantle the hegemony of single points of view and force the system to break down into an infinite number of plural particles.


Writing means movement, it means blowing up one’s own existing frameworks, leaping into the void so as to be able to look from a new perspective. It is a way of rethinking our own structures of alterity, our binarisms.

Having been challenged by the experience of the ZEMOS98 Festival, it barely makes sense to write a compartmentalised text: this text. A text about collective thought that acknowledges authorship, and that I will sign with my name. A first-person text about one person’s experience of the common. Signed by me as a way of accepting responsibility for this personal gaze, precisely so as to avoid striping the collective of meaning. But even so, isn’t a signature a border?

Achille Mbembe claims that plurality is the basic human condition. By positioning ourselves in the common, as plural beings, recognising that plurality, the discord, the struggle to incorporate discord, we can embark on a path towards undiscovered spaces.

Thinking means moving. Writing means moving. Thinking, writing, incorporating the difficulties involved in moving. I go back home after the Zemos98 Festival and – with dread and excitement in equal parts – I observe my own struggle to imagine other possible writings that narrate new cartographies.

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Streaming of Autonomous Imageries , Audiovisual Source Code by Carlos Delclós and Mamadou Kheraba Drame.

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