Videre (“to see”) is the Latin root from which we derive vision, visage, video, and of great interest, visa. The basic etymology for the act of sight, for an entire dimension of sense, also situates this fundamental object of modern, globalized border controls. The visa connects the individual, corporeally and symbolically, to the great constructs of our time: the nation-state and the border. If a visa is possessed, one submits to being an object of state surveillance; if not, one is stateless and condemned to bare life.
In this project, the modular form of the visa is refashioned into a reclamation of subjectivity and not state identity, social dignity and not social death. These authorizing documents are not for border crossings, but for connecting horizons of time, time-travel. The visa as a doubling of time-space, a doubling of faces: Walter Benjamin, Ritwik Ghatak, Forough Farrokhzad, the flashes of East Bengali life in fragments. These are visas of memory, visas of nonreciprocity, visas of poetry and poetic testimony.
Exhibited for Habibiz at the Margin of Eras Gallery. Featured in Bitch magazine (Issue #83) and Canadian Art Forecast.
A special thank you to Mitra Fakhrashrafi and Jessica Kirk.
Appendix: References, Stamp Details, and Readings
Adam McKeown, Melancholy Order
Hannah Arendt, “Introduction” in Illuminations
Ritwik Ghatak, Meghe Dhaka Tara
Forough Farrokhzad, “Another Birth”
Frantz Fanon, Les Damnés de la Terre
Ibn Kathir, Tafsīr al-Qurʾān
James Baldwin, “The Creative Process”
Simone Weil, “The Iliad or The Poem of Force”
Thomas Ruff, Portraits
Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History”