Irvine California – Artist talks, panel discussions or lectures that are given by artists at university events can be an interesting alternative setting to learn about practices in the contemporary art scene. Today afternoon, Filmmaker Alex Rivera talked about borders, technology and immigration activism at the University of California Irvine. The event was held by the film and media department in collaboration with the Chicano/Latino Studies Department, the Immigration Rights Clinic and the School of Law UCI.
Alex Rivera is a digital media artist and filmmaker who uses a variety of forms to explore issues of labor, migration and cross-border-communities. The presentation started with a scene from his feature film Sleep Dealer, a science-fiction filmset in Tijuana, Mexico, which won two awards at Sundance 2008, including the Waldo Salt screenwriting award. The film scene can be described as the visual essence of Rivera’s current research and filmmaking practice as it shows the absurd contradiction between indistinction of political borders with the help of technology (eg. borderless digital spaces) and at the same time enforcement of borders through applying technology (eg. digitalization of fingerprints for deportation). According to Rivera, this contradiction is an abnormal situation which has to be solved sooner or later. The aspect of technological development or the role of technology is often neglected in many of the current research dealing with migration and border communities. Bringing in the aspect of technology to this subject is refreshing in terms of allowing the subject to be viewed from a different perspectives.
According to Rivera everything such as information, money, objects and brands are moving with the flow of transnationalism but that there are still people (‘working class folks’) divided and limited through borders. There is no doubt that national borders are important for security purposes, nevertheless their existence demand a new concept, which allows more freedom of move, especially in a time of extreme transnationalism and globalisation.