Danae Stratou

Pacific Ocean Border Fence, US-Mexico border, Greece , 2006

2 Color prints on Plexiglass 100x150cm each

Courtesy of the artist and Zoumboulakis Galleries, Athens

Dana Stratou’s piece is one of a series of seven pairs of photographs from border regions. The photographs are exhibited opposite one another and send the gaze to both sides of the border, and place the viewer in the abyss between them – the no man’s land between borders which can be reached only by crossing a border through danger or the use of political privilege. In photographs of the United States-Mexico border Stratou depicts a tense political-economic border which many attempt to cross in the effort to gain a better life. These attempts which include smuggling and bribery, run into the dangers of a a meeting with the security forces and the harsh desert conditions of the United States. As a result, many of those who attempt to cross the border die in run-ins with the security forces. Despite knowing that their lives will be forfeit to a state of loss of identity and dependence, many Mexicans continue to try and cross the border each day.

In this piece we view the point at which the border fence between the United States and Mexico meets the quiet ocean, against the view of Tijuana to the South: it’s a sunny day on the coast of Mexico, and like moths drawn to the light, the beach goers are drawn to the fence. They didn’t come here in order to cross the border into the United States or examine its defences. They came to paddle and eat ice cream “on the edge”. The fence crossers congregate elsewhere, in the run down border towns of Mexico, around the drains that stream back into the United States part of the poisons pumped into Mexico by factories built to take advantage of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, and alongside the desert roads which have become a stage for the processions of people, like night time ports. The entire North American continent, from Tierra del Fuego to Tijuana and from Bolivia to Juarez, leans all its weight on this one border fence.