The 21st century has been defined by a rhetoric of fear. In times when everything is linked and webs of chaos masquerade as efficient systems, it is not clear whether we experience the symptoms, causes or sdominations of fear.
Jessica Nupen’s ‘Don’t Trust the Border’ explores the way in which different types of borders and boundaries impinge on our everyday lives, and the implication this has for the simple, human concepts of trust and openness. The current global political climate presents borders as dynamic markers that can emerge, disappear, or re-emerge, as having a fluid, transitional character, functioning both as geographic boundaries and internal zones of negotiation. How does understanding the arbitrariness of borders as penetrable, vacillating and changing constructs allow us to negotiate, legitimise and ultimately modify them? In Nupen’s hands, the fixed becomes permeable, and the viewer’s expectations and traditional ways of seeing are riotously subverted. In ‘Don’t Trust the Border’, the performers examine the ambiguity and hazard thrown up by changing boundaries and the threat that new concepts of public order, public space, hierarchy, centralised control and surveillance impose on personal freedom. In a world of displacement, how does one safeguard personal boundaries – personal power, the borders of the body itself, the space for uncertainty and improvisation, and what scope remains to manipulate and reshape them?
Influenced heavily by Pina Bausch, Nupen creates a cross-disciplinary collaboration with acclaimed South African and European performers, visual artists, designers and composers. She unearths the emotional and existential grey area the exist along borders, creating space for dreams, fears, contradiction, paranoia and doubt to play out their storylines against the backdrop of a decomposing society.