Borders not only define political law, they also constitute geographic realities built of infrastructure, forging politics into the landscape. Architect Ana Dana Beroš and filmmaker Matija Kralj foreground this infrastructural element in a short experimental film and text, depicting the political drama of migration as infrastructural tracts that increasingly define the geography of border regimes.
Geotrauma is not merely a wound, incised in organic texture by means of a foreign object, or even an individual experience; instead, it is a physical and material reality onto which all of life on Earth is inscribed, with its traces accumulated and entangled within us. Sites of recent humanitarian emergencies, which in public discourse have marked the “refugee crisis,” such as refugee camps, evacuated borderscapes, or invisible graveyards of anonymous victims, acquire significance as planetary geotrauma that reaches beyond all atomized, fragmented experiences and nightmares.
Documentation of the mounds of life jackets on the island of Lesbos, with its discarded refugee luggage, which faded from media exploitation and spectacularization during the historic “summer of migration,” sought to make us reflect on what remains and what our legacy to humanity might be. In the course of events, during which Greece and Turkey have been turned into Western Europe’s humanitarian dumping ground, and Fortress Europe has been spilling over to neighboring continents, geotrauma is a reminder that we are responsible for seeking out and creating—through both current and endless (geo)traumas—new possibilities of (co)existence and open-border societies that will accept otherness, collectivity, and solidarity, in the here and now.
During the past years Ana Dana Beroš and Matija Kralj have collaborated to research and document the (de)construction of the so-called Balkan route—from the transition center in the town of Dobova on the Slovenian–Croatian border to the Macedonian–Greek border and the informal refugee camp of Idomeni—and further, to the city of Mardin in northern Mesopotamia, near the Turkish–Syrian border. The video juxtaposes two narratives, one about displacing and shifting borders—showing the scenes of military-run refugee camps in northern Greece, and the ad hoc tented “parasite settlements” evacuees set up in petrol stations shortly after the closure of Idomeni in Summer 2016, and the other depicting the infamous detention center Moria, a human wasteland, and heaps of discarded life jackets in northern Lesbos in Autumn 2017. Geotrauma traces and documents expanding borderscapes and explores the intricate codependency between European migration policies and international humanitarian organizations, including the large-scale involvement of voluntourists and activists—the anarchists of the “industry of disaster.”