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Another Brick in the Wall

Two French travellers overcome geographical and political distances through a photography exhibition and a book.

Written by Parul Bajaj |
August 31, 2011 3:14:47 am

Intrigued by thin lines between nations on the world map,French photographers Alexandra Novosseloff and Frank Neisse decided to embark on a journey that documented these walls as tangible signs of permanent tensions. “We wanted to work on a project that combined our expertise in political science and international relations with our passion for photography and travelling,” says Novosseloff,who went backpacking from Tijuana to Belfast and Jerusalem to Seoul in a two-year-long journey. The aim was to chronicle the sentiments of the people at these places through photographs,observations and anecdotes.

The endeavour has led to a collection of photographs that are on display at Alliance Francaise,in an exhibition titled “Walls Between People”. Among others,there are images of six different walls — between North and South Korea,Pakistan and India,the Separation Wall between Israel and Palestine,Green Line that divides the island of Cyprus and the barrier built between the United States and Mexico. “The exhibition will travel across the world. The photographs come from a book we wrote in French,Murs-entre-hommes. It was published a couple of months ago in Spanish in Colombia and Mexico. The translation for the English edition has just been completed,’’ says Novosseloff.

The images,accompanied by text,help viewers discover areas of crisis and deep ideological antagonisms of terrorism,violence and physical and the psychological distances between people. The photographs describe them as “scars of our open world”. “It began with our trip to Western Sahara in 2001. When we saw the 2,000 km long wall and pondered,we realised that there were several other walls around the world. It contradicts the general description of the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall — we are told it is a world with open borders,where there is free movement of people and goods,’’ observes Novosseloff. So with each image there is a physical description of the wall,its history and notes on how it divides two territories. The authors contend that a wall cannot guarantee effective protection,as the ultimate objective is separation from one’s neighbour. “The Wall in Palestine: Protection or Partition?” The graffiti on the wall in one of the images echoes many sentiments,as the two travellers comment that it is an “anti-terrorist barrier” for the Israelis and “wall of shame’’ for Palestinians. The authors trace the history of The Green Line in Cyprus and describe the ubiquitous wall between the two Koreas as “timeless ”. The electrified fence,Line of Control between India and Pakistan,takes the viewers to the core of the India-Pakistan conflict and the impact of the

Mexico-United States Barrier,on Mexicans,Latin-Americans and Americans,is subtly indicated with two cars moving in opposite direction on the same road.

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“They are all unfair and a result of lack of trust,dialogue and understanding,’’ says the author,who adds that the duo never had any security problems while taking pictures. Novosseloff believes that globalisation is leading to the creation of these walls. “Some countries wish to mark themselves in the globalised world,so they are walling their border. Others are fighting against global fears such as terrorism and immigration by doing so,’’ says she.

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