(…) borders have changed place. Whereas traditionally, and in conformity with both their juridical definition and “cartographical” representation as incorporated in national memory, they should be at the edge of the territory, marking the point where it ends, it seems that borders and the institutional practices corresponding to them have been transported into the middle of political space. (…) More and more, however, borders are creating problems in the heart of civic space where they generate conflicts, hopes, and frustrations for all sorts of people (…)
Etienne Balibar: “We, the People of Europe?”
Cross Border Experience is a trans-state / trans-border / trans-national project that centres on the question as to how the idea of the European Union could be thought of as a trans-national political project. The project searches for the (political) subject of this utopian Europe beyond nationalism, ethnicism, and colonialism; is the precondition for this the EU citizenship or could also “the Others,” who are a part of Europe but not (yet) in the EU, claim political agency? It became clear that the European unification is a challenging and troubling process. On the one hand, we can speak about the real impossibility of European unification as long as we operate in categories such as “us” and “them”, “old” and “new”, “big” and “small”. At the same time, the EU proved not only to raise borders around itself, thus constructing a permanent “EU” and “the Other” territorial and symbolic divide, but such demarcation processes are also at work inside the EU: i.e. the former West vs. the former East, as well as South vs. North.
Moreover, rejecting pro-social state ideas as outmoded, even impossible and in this way constructing all those in favour of ideas of social equality as irrational, is particularly problematic. According to the contemporary French political philosopher Etienne Balibar, Europe needs a new democracy; he calls Europe’s current social democratic model a “conflictual democracy” – one which recognises individuals as the bearers of collective rights protection. For new, real, radical democracy of Europe we urgently need to rethink and recontextualize concepts such as: state, borders, nation, belonging, identity, sovereignty, citizenship, communism, solidarity.
The Cross Border Experience project tries through various activities to open some of these burning political issues of the European space today.
Through Cross Border Experience video-film conducted in all of the EU candidate countries in the Balkans as well as in Turkey the project aims at critically rethinking the role of the EU in the so-called South-East European (SEE) region and Turkey as well as at challenging the stereotypes in the EU about the SEE region and Turkey, and vice versa.
The transnational and transdisciplinary Cross Border Experience Conference is a come-together of socially and politically engaged activists, cultural workers, academics, theoreticians, artists and non-governmental, research, cultural and artistic organisations from all the EU and EU-to-be countries of the Balkans and from Turkey with an aim to address pertinent issues within the EU, the EU enlargement process and the situation of the candidate countries.
The Cross Border Experience Art Programme, taking place in the framework of the above mentioned conference, will present some of the current art positions from the Balkans and Turkey. Through these diverse activities the project seeks to add to the critical reflection of the current “European question,” as well as to encourage the long-term and fruitful networking and exchange processes among all of the involved participants, organisations, as well as the wider publics in the broader European space.