I have been telling myself for a while that the Israeli-Palestinian Wall of separation embodied an open fracture, the end of the dialogue between the Eastern and the Western worlds. That dismantling it, after the resolution of the conflict, would solve part of the world’s problems, or at least ease tension forces. Unfortunately, this was a thought invested with idle hopes.
In 2011, fascinated with the subject, I attended my first international conference on state walls of separation at UQÀM, under the direction of Élisabeth Vallet, scientific director of the Chaire Raoul-Dandurand in strategic and diplomatic studies.
There is one major historic fact I retained from this conference: there were never as many new walls built in the history of humanity than since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. At the time of the conference, we were talking about some fifty walls disseminated around the world.
After the Cold War, the 1990ies saw the rise of globalization and the opening of markets, leading us to believe that immurement and compartmentalization of the minds were phenomena of the past.
September 2001 came to disturb the course of History and trigger a complex spectrum of exactions, defining a new world order of withdrawal.
Ever since, as much as the world is going global, it is closing in.
Conceptually, I was fascinated by the paradox and I decided to begin this project on walls that would become WALLS OF DISORDER, a vast interdisciplinary working ground gathering together the disciplines of documentary filmmaking, painting, video installation, and geopolitical research.
In November 2013, with the support of SPIRA, I went to Israel/Palestine for the first time to shoot our first images with Catherine Benoit, who would become an essential collaborator of the project as a producer, but whose implication would touch major aspects, from logistics to artistic and critical inputs. I realized on location that the fracture was much more complex than I had imagined, and that the physical wall was in fact just a visual symbol for mental walls, much stronger than these slabs of concrete that scarify the landscape.
Back in Québec, I contacted Élisabeth Vallet to invite her to be a part of this project on the walls. With a concern for elective affinities, I wanted to align with their high level research on the subject. I asked them: What is the state of state walls today? On which issues are you working? Their answer was: Walls do not work for the reasons for which they were built.
As window-dressing, political theater, visual masquerades to ease the narrow minded, the walls foster xenophobic interior politics much more than they solve so-called problems.
In association with researchers Josselyn Guillarmou and Zoé Barry, we defined a work plan aimed at contextualising and problematizing these walls.
Obviously, we could not visit each and every wall, so we tackled the subject by targeting those that could symbolize and combine the issues of all the walls in the world: terrorism, human trafficking, drugs, oil and weapons smuggling, etc., social and economic inequalities, migratory flow, inter-religious and territorial conflicts.
I therefore targeted the Israeli-Palestinian wall, the safety wall at the frontier of the United States and Mexico, as well as great forgotten state walls, the badly named Peacelines of Northern Ireland. I postulate that while they are not located directly on a frontier, they nevertheless embody the issue of internal borders that the Brexit negotiations revived.
From 2013 to 2017, we visited the sites of these walls many times, to shoot footage that would make short films in the form of web documentaries, video installations, paintings, and geopolitical researches.
Between 2011 and 2019, the whole world kept secluding itself, from the Easts to Europe and Americas, under policies ill-using the definition of democracy.
As for myself, I felt a great responsibility, as an artist and a citizen of the world, to be a part of the chorus of criticism against state walls.
They are now 70 of them disfiguring our planet.