performingborders | LIVE 2019

…how we strategise and how we survive…

(Season Butler, Curating Borderless Spaces, LADA, 22nd June 2019)


performingborders | LIVE  2019, curated by Alessandra Cianetti and Xavier de Sousa, was the first edition of a public programme of events, open conversations, artist digital commissions, and workshops focusing on the exploration of experimental and exciting artistic practices happening within the UK Live Art sector around notions and intersectional lived experiences of physical, racial, gendered, class, cultural, juridical, national and everyday borders.

pbLIVE19 draws from the three-year ongoing research curatorial platform performingborders that has been gathering over seventy national and international original interviews, guest posts, writings and experimental responses from live artists, thinkers, activists, academics and art professionals on physical and conceptual borders within an increasingly shared feeling of uncertainty. As an attempt to make sense of oppressive systems that hugely impacts on minorities and oppressed communities, pbLIVE19 aimed at bringing those discussions into national and international venues to meet both art audiences and general public. The transition from online to a live setting allowed us to widen the conversation, create a broader inclusive discussion, and commission new artworks that were also internationally broadcasted and accessible online.

Furthermore pbLIVE19 gave us the opportunity to open art spaces to conversations that are not yet mainstream (i.e. how do different cultural backgrounds influence our thinking/standing on notions of and lived experiences of borders? How are artists with different cultural upbringings exploring identities within different contexts?). It also allowed us to provoke artists and curators to play with the live interview format either according to their artistic aesthetics or to their intentions, and give space for them to think critically about their work and experiences. pbLIVE19 created the space for us to think of the contexts we were playing in (for instance in Manchester, we reflected on the history of the city as a historically migrant LGBTQ+ inclusive city, and how different cultural backgrounds can influence perspectives on our own identities) and how they could influence the events’ contents and the conversation around borders as a whole. The direct influence of the live audience included voices in the conversation that the online format didn’t: direct, unedited provocations and reflections.

Invited guest curators Annie Jael Kwan, Tuna Erdem, and osborn&møller nominated artists Sim Chi Yin, Nima Séne, and Anti-Cool, respectively, and to delve into what ‘borders’ means to them.  Together they looked at different perspective of borders from war, memory and trauma, to queer identities and race, migrant stories and juridical obstacles with the presentation of these issues though the use of public open discussions, performative lecture and film. Watch them all here: Manchester, Brighton , London.


Commissioned art works include:

Borderline Dialogue by Tara Fatehi Irani. A coming together of seven actions for public space, different understandings and experiences of borders and embracing the border as a site where different bodies, concepts and perspectives bleed into one another. Performed in Australia, Hong Kong, Iran, Ukraine, USA, Chile and Mexico; *

Moebius Stripping by Istanbul Queer Art Collective, cuts documents they submitted for their ‘leave to remain’ status to the UK Home Office, into pieces. Carried with a tongue in cheek manner, in line with the collectives’ firm belief in the “queer art of failure” *.

*both premiered at Beyond the Wall/Más Allá del Mur Festival (Nogales, US/ Mexico)

Patrolling by Critical Interruptions, a critical multi--platform conversation for the digital page about border patrols of unrecognised states by the Serbo-Romanian critical cooperative comprised by Bojana Janković and Diana Damian Martin.

All the Tea in China by Burong (曾不容), a multi-perspective and coral narrative around Belgrade’s Performance Hub with contributions by Franko B (UK/Italy), Alejandro Chellet (Mexico), Richard Dedomenici (UK), Miao Jiaxin (China/US), and VestAndPage (German/Italy). 

In her Embodied Movement for Social Change workshop, Camille Barton used ‘somatic exercises and dance to explore how oppression is rooted in the body and how we can shift its hold on our lives using mindful attention and movement’.

Curating Borderless Spaces, the programme’s finale was hosted by the Live Art Development Agency (LADA) featuring a day of participatory key note on decolonial practices by Raju Rage, exhibition of the commissioned works, talks, food, and an open conversation peppered with provocations by Bojana Janković, Dana Olărescu, Kai Syng Tan, Helena Walsh. The day’s writer in residence was Season Butler who responded to the stimuli of the day through a durational live writing (here her original text) and a final performance that closed the day.

All documentation, reflections and artworks created during performingborders | LIVE 2019 are accessible online for free here (


performingborders | LIVE was funded by Arts Council England. Produced by performingborders and Foreign Actions Productions in collaboration with Live Art Development Agency (London, UK), Contact Theatre (Manchester, UK), Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (Brighton, UK), Artsadmin (London, UK), Deptford Lounge (London, UK), Beyond the Wall/Más Allá del Mur Festival (Nogales, US/ Mexico), and the Centre for The Study of Sexual Dissidence (University of Sussex, UK).

Categories: Report

Date Posted: 17 October 2019