Alia Ali: BORDERLAND Photo Exhibition
“Borderlands, like textiles, are territories of exploration and zones in which we will be judged for our humanity.”
In her photographic series BORDERLAND, Alia Ali uses portraiture to explore the liminal spaces surrounding human-made borders, which are often created as a result of conflict and violence. The portraits in the series feature textile artisans from eleven different regions wrapped in their own handiwork. Rendered anonymous and removed from their environmental and cultural contexts, these individuals become characters that the artist calls “–cludes.” As viewers we must decide how the subjects behind these fabrics will be included or excluded within our own unconscious and subjective categorizations. Ali writes, “We separate good from evil; familiar from unfamiliar; threat from safety; alien from native… We, influenced by categorizations create these dichotomies ourselves." Through this visual exercise, the artist asks us to consider: what are the fabricated barriers in society that inhibit the incorporation of others? Or are the obstacles just that: ideas, intuitions, fear, discriminations, and misunderstandings?
Alia Ali (b. 1985, Austria) is a Yemeni-Bosnian-American multi-media artist. Having traveled to sixty-three countries, lived in seven, and grown up among five languages, her most comfortable mode of communication is through image and multi-sensory mediums. Ali is a graduate of the United World College of the Atlantic (UWCAC) and holds a BA in Studio Art and Middle Eastern Studies from Wellesley College. Her work has been featured at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Marrakech Biennale as part of the Swiss-Moroccan KE’CH Collective, and Gulf Photo Plus Dubai during Art Week Dubai 2017. Her work has most recently been exhibited at the Peter Sillem Gallery (Germany), Galerie Siniya 28 (Morocco), Space Gallery (Maine, USA), Lianzhou Photo Festival (China), and Contemporary Art Center of New Orleans (USA). She has been awarded the Alice C. Cole '42 Grant of Wellesley College, LensCulture’s Emerging Talent Awards in 2016, and she was a Gold Winner in the Fine Art Category of the Tokyo International Foto Awards.