Yale University School of Art
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New Haven, Connecticut, 06520-8339
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INTERNAL BORDERS

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Images copyright © 2012 Sandra Burns

INTERNAL BORDERS

32 Edgewood Gallery, Yale School of Art

October 17 – November 30

Hours: M, W-Sun: 1-6pm; closed Tuesdays 203-432-2600

Note: exhibition will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday recess, Nov. 17 through 25, reopening Monday, Nov. 26.

On display:

Sophie Calle: The Eruv of Jerusalem. Photographs, table, map, text, 1996.

Shirin Neshat: Turbulent, double-projection video, 1998.

http://www.yale.edu/ism/eruv/

Sophie Calle, L’Eruv de Jerusalem appears courtesy of the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme de Paris. The exhibition was sponsored by the Institute of Sacred Music, Yale University.

The installations at the 32 Edgewood Gallery move beyond the metaphor of the eruv to explore the consequences of the notion of borders for interpersonal relations. In the gallery, a broken border of eruv markers suggests the breaking up of the space of the eruv. It surrounds the space on three sides and continues down the adjoining corridor as if to leave the room. Two installations, adjoining in the space like courtyard eruvin, each represent borders, at the same time trespassing them in unique ways.

In preparation for L’erouv de Jérusalem, Sophie Calle asked Arab and Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem to show her public places that they regarded as private. In the installation, photographs of eruv poles in Jerusalem surround a map marked with their stories and photographs of their places. Other than their location within the eruv, the stories have nothing ostensibly to do with it. Yet all concern outer borders that become inner limitations. A young girl does not leave her private space to enter the street where, as she can see from her window, a stranger sits on a bench hoping that she will come to talk to him. Someone looks longingly over a border, but to cross it would mean literally stepping into a minefield. To move from “our” space into “their” space allows a young man to engage in activities forbidden in his own society. To peruse these stories about people and pictures of deserted public spaces is to become aware that the lives of Calle’s interviewees are saturated by the awareness of impassable borders, signaled by the nearly invisible, ostensibly open, yet fully internalized, eruv border.

It is appropriate to end by exiting the eruv altogether and considering the consequences of internalized borders in other contexts in the wider world. Shirin Neshat’s double- projection video installation Turbulent shows the harshness of the divide between men and women in contemporary Iran. While on one screen a male singer sings a lovely ballad to a crowded hall where male listeners fill every seat, on the opposite screen a woman faces an empty auditorium. As he finishes his love song and takes his bow, however, the singer is distracted by unearthly sounds, a ecstatic wordless music coming from the woman on the other screen. He stands, spellbound and silenced by her raw emotion, while the viewer is transfixed between the two.

Turbulent may seem to be merely a political critique of Iranian culture, where women are forbidden to sing to audiences, but its immense power, which leaves the viewer at an impasse between the two worlds of men and women, implies universal internalized borders that leave all of us, individually, communally, in our nation states and our neighborhoods, looking across impassable, yet tantalizing borders.

Last edited by: Sandra Burns
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