Up Against the Wall

A Photo-Documentation Project by K. Flo Razowsky

It’s about the look of borders come manifest & the effect on the people and the land when the arbitrary line in the sand takes form.

And it’s about creating the intersections to bring it all home.

ImageUp Against The Wall highlights a documentation project that began in 2002 and currently uses the US/Mexico & Spanish/Moroccan borders and Israel’s walls in Palestine to visually explore what happens when nation-state imposed borders become physical and militarized.

It allows a glimpse, of structures built to thwart migrants attempting to reach economic opportunity, of walls created that make indigenous peoples refugees on their own lands, of deadly barriers intended to lock others out, or in, as the case may be. It shows a story of these lines come manifest and the people and land these structures impact. And, for those of us from the “West,” and for those of us with white skin privilege, it puts in front of our faces a story of our own culpability in this globalized world.

This body of work first occurred to me in 2002 as I watched Israel build its wall in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. I watched from the first of the groundbreaking as this structure called a ‘security barrier’ by some, the apartheid wall by others, cut it’s way through the orchards and groves, through the villages and through the heart of the people.

I would stand at this construction site or drive by in a taxi and think, “We think ourselves so civilized, so mature in the world and yet these are the answers we come up with to solve what we see as a problem – build a wall to lock others out, build a fence to keep out of view the problems we ourselves have created but don’t want to take responsibility for. And, the nail in the coffin, let’s build this wall on our neighbor’s land, let’s build this fence on the land of those we criminalize and lock out to begin with.

It struck me as awesome the state of mind of those who abuse power, of those who benefit so greatly from unchecked privilege in this world.

When I returned to the United States after this first brush with the absurd, I began to research borders and different situations around the world where ‘first world’ mentality created lines in the sand that took form, were deadly, and at the same time being crossed by those willing to die for what lie on the other side. I came to realize this concept was not so unusual a means for the “haves” to utilize in order to lock out or otherwise negatively impact the “have nots.” To highlight these absurdities, I got myself to various spots on the globe, including The E.U./Ukrainian, Croatian/Serbian, Spanish/Moroccan (yes, it does exist) borders, the southern US border, and Israel’s Walls in Palestine. The 3 latter are the focus of Up Against The Wall thus far.

Melilla is a Spanish enclave cut off from the north of Morocco by a militarized and deadly triple layer 10ft high structure. Migrants travel for 4,5,6 years to reach this side of the line only to be held in migrant detention centers, some for years, awaiting the legal system to either award them papers or deport them. These of course are only the lucky ones who made it this far alive.

At the US/Mexico border, I spent one week each in El Paso, TX, Nogales, AZ and San Diego, Ca. Definitely not enough time to claim I caught anything more then a glimpse, but I did walk away with a portfolio of pictures of that line in the sand come manifest.

I knew needed to use these pictures in order to show those of us that aren’t forced up against the walls in this world exactly what is in our backyards and to expose the dirty little secrets of our power and privilege.

And of course, I needed to use all of these pictures together to highlight the globalized connections even if the structures were thousands of miles apart:
Up Against The Wall also stands as a tool for movement and community building. Throughout the length of the original show in 2011, local organizations working at the intersections of social issues held workshops, presentations and other events in the exhibit furthering local involvement and access to the show. This allowed for the continued process of bringing artwork and our community work into the same fold. The show also provided a powerful backdrop to these varied issues while supporting work of connecting the issues themselves.

For more images from Up Against The Wall:
http://www.lightstalkers.org/galleries/s/75qdbndpuxjooutgs0zz

About the Artist

Self profileK. Flo Razowsky combines art and activism through documentary photography, writing and grass-roots organizing. Razowsky has spent more then 15 years supporting First Nations struggles in the U.S., including at Big Mountain/Black Mesa and in Minnesota. Internationally, Razowsky has spent over 22 months in occupied Palestine between 2002 and 2008 splitting time between documenting life on the ground and participating in Palestinian organized non-violent resistance to Israel’s occupation. In 2012, Flo was a team member of Witness Bahrain, a grassroots and on-the-ground initiative to monitor human rights abuses at the hands of the Bahraini regime on the one-year anniversary of the on-going revolution in Bahrain.
Razowsky has continued this work through writing, photo exhibits, community organizing and education campaigns, including as an organizer with the International Jewish anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), and as a founding member of Minnesota Break the Bonds (MN BBC). Flo also wrote and directed, Café Intifada, a theater piece based on first-hand experiences in occupied Palestine and has developed and produced the on-going photographic documentation project, Up Against The Wall, which visually explores what happens when nation-state imposed borders become physical and militarized.

More simply, Razowsky is a Jewish, USA-raised global traveler, joining documentary photography, writing, and no-compromise activism to the international struggle for human rights, dignity, freedom, and respect for the Earth in the face of US-led imperialism, racism and attempted world domination.

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It’s a wrap

Years of photographing across different continents, 8 months of building and a month of the show itself with all the amazing events and Up Against The Wall’s inaugural run is over. What a great run it was!

 

 

The show will go on though. If you are interested in bringing Up Against The Wall to your city, campus, organization, let me know.

Thanks to all who supported the show through spreading the word, coming by yourself, organizing and/or participating in the events and cross-movement building. I couldn’t and didn’t want to do it without each and every one of you.

xo,
–Flo

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Last Week of Up Against The Wall!

Can’t believe it’s almost over!!

Whether or not you’ve made it to one, none or all the events, join us for the closing, Saturday, September 17, 2-5pm at Vine Arts Center, 2637 27th Ave S, Mpls.

A few more past event updates:
Saturday Sept 3, 11am-1pm, RARE Productions
featured Louis Alemayehu, Andrea Jenkins, Shannon Gibney, Ovaidial Horton/SunRa Lightwaves and Terri Stark. These amazing artists read stories, poems, showed an multi-media piece and performed poetry to musical accompaniment.
It was an amazing event focused on boundaries and borders of gender, love, realities of African American men in this world and so much more.

Thursday Sept 8, Twin Cities Anti Sexual Violence Workers
A group of folks that included those who work on issues of sexual violence, those who are survivors of sexual violence and allies created an interactive installation on borders and boundaries. The piece consisted of drawers in a cabinet filled with the things that keep us resilient.

Saturday Sept 10, International Jewish anti-Zionist Network, Twin Cities
IJAN TC, in collaboration with The Seven Fires Summit,  presented on There and Here, Then and Now – occupation and colonization in Palestine and The US.

Monday Sept 12, 2 Spirit First Nations Collective
Presenting on issues of sovereignty, immigration, Neo-Liberalism, imported colonialism, Indigenous relationships to national borders and so much more, members of the 2 Spirit First Nations Collective rocked the house, leaving the audience speechless!

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The amazing events just keep on coming!

I can’t take it, the events are so amazing and just keep on happening!

Whether you’ve made it for one, several or none of the evnts, come on by for one!

Still on the roster:
-> Sat Sept 3
, 11am-1pm, RARE Productions
http://rareproductionsmpls.com/
-> Thu Sept 8
, 5.30-8pm, Twin Cities Anti Sexual Violence Workers
-> Sat Sept 10
, 11am-1pm, International Jewish anti-Zionist Network, Twin Cities
http://www.ijsn.net/C89/
-> Mon Sept 12
, 5.30-8pm, 2 Spirit First Nations Collective
-> Thu Sept 15, 5.30-8pm, Chicano Studies & The Borderlands
-> Sat Sept 17, 2-5pm – Closing Reception

All events at Vine Arts Center, 2637 27th Ave S, Mpls

More updates on events past:
8.25, Kulture Klub Art Garden
We got to hear from the young people who participate in the garden project including how the project has helped them break down walls in their neighborhood.
There was also an awesome slide show of their work from throughout the summer.

8.29, Mizna
It was an amazing Saturday morning event featuring three speakers focusing on, Perspectives on Borders and Occupation.
Speakers and performers included Fouzi Slisli, Taous Khazem, Ibtisam Alkam, and Sherine Mashn offering academic, personal, and artistic reactions to the Israeli occupation and the wall surrounding the West Bank.

8.29, Oyate Nipi Kte
Four members of Oyate Nipi Kte honored us with a talk about the connections between the occupations and colonization of this land we call the United States and Palestine. For those of us in the audience who are settlers on this land and who support the colonization of Palestine, this event offered us an important perspective that hopefully we all took to heart.

9.1, Trans Youth Support Network
TYSN presented a workshop on borders and our bodies including information on TYSN itself, time to explore the walls of gender that are created for us and that we have created for ourselves and used theater of the oppressed techniques to embody the cultural and physical systems that bar ourselves from ourselves and one another and to embody the systems of resistance we use to make powerful connections, regardless.

Next Up:
Saturday Sept 3, 11am-1pm, RARE Productions
featuring Louis Alemayehu, Andrea Jenkins, Shannon Gibney, Ovaidial Horton/SunRa Lightwaves and Terri Stark.
Can’t wait!

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Amazing events at Up Against The Wall!

So many awesome events!

8.18:
Over 50 people attended the storytelling hosted by Women’s Prison Book Project at Up Against the Wall on August 18. Stories covered the gamut from relationships to those forced behind prison walls to reliving childhood lessons of being “different” and learning to embrace yourself.

Thanks WPBP for the amazing night!

 

8.22:
MN Break the Bonds Campaign hosted another and different storytelling at Up Against The Wall featuring Palestinians telling their stories of how Israel’s wall and occupation has effected them.

Thanks MN BBC for helping to make the connections of all these struggles!

 

Next Up:
Thu, 8.25, 5.30-8pm, Kulture Klub Art Garden!
http://www.kultureklub.org/

Join the artists, staff, and youth of Kulture Klub Collaborative on Thursday August 25th to share stories and photographs about their summer Art Garden project.

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Women’s Prison Book Project!

An evening of storytelling hosted by Women’s Prison Book Project at Up Against The Wall!
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155582067853296
@ the Vine Arts Center
2637 27th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN
6.30-8pm
Admission price: Pass the hat
All proceeds will go to the Women’s Prison Book Project to mail books to women and trans people in prison.

 

If you have questions or would like more information, just email us.

Thanks for all your support!

Tell Your Friends! And see you there!!

For the entire month of events at Up Against The Wall: http://upagainstthewall2011.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/guestevents/

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Up Against The Wall opens!

Close to 200 folks were able to join as Up Against The Wall opened this amazing month of events.

Next Up:
GLBT Host Home,
8.15, 5.30-8pm

Check out the entire month’s schedule below!
Thanks to everyone who came out for the opening! It was an honor to be able and share this work with everyone. It’s been many years in the coming and still only the beginning. Now the question becomes how to continue it as a tool and something useful.

Lots of folks asked about the possibility of the showing traveling. Let me know if you are interested. I am down if we can get the money together.

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