Border Ball : THE OTAY MESA PORT OF ENTRY

NOVEMBER 17

“The artist is the servant of need.”

MY WAY OF WALKING WITH JOEL TAUBER, keeping my mind on the road.  RA

Finding a few sensible words to remind that Joel is an artist, and his journey through the border is an art piece. The manners of expressing truths change more than the weather. They must change. The old nest, writes a poet, must be recreated.  

William Carlos William walks with us right now. Surely sun and heat are implacable at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in the middle of the day. The flow of people, in which the artist does not isolate himself, tries to ignore the weather. Stories and game break the cartilage of the border, the inevitable scar tissues. History moves, no one escapes. What’s freedom? It’s an old symbol we take for granted. It was the main symbol when America became the promised land from those who escaped Europe since the beginning of nineteen hundred, and before and after, hoping to leave misery and oppressions behind. 

Today, maybe, it’s good to remind the poet’s precision, suggesting that

“Liberty is the better word. It was liberty they needed, not so much liberty for freedom’s sake but liberty to partake of, to be included in and to conserve. Liberty, in this sense, has the significance of inclusion rather than a breaking away. It is the correct sense for the understanding of America. … But to have liberty one must be first a man, cultured by circumstances to maintain oneself under adverse weather conditions as still part of the whole. Discipline is implied.

But freedom remained the commonly accepted and much copied cliché, implying lack od discipline, dispersion.

The real character of the people is not toward dispersion except for a temporary phase for the gathering of power, but to unite. To form a union. To work toward a common purpose — to resist the weather.”

(William Carlos Williams, Against the Weather – A study of the Artist, 1939)

by JOEL TAUBER

I’m getting ready for the 17th day of Border-Ball: a 40-day pilgrimage along the U.S. – Mexico border. I start each day at noon at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California. It’s wonderful to see so many people cross the border, even in the middle of the day – both into the U.S. and into Mexico. There are distinct pathways for trucks, cars, and pedestrians; and each of these pathways are always busy.

I find the fluidity of movement at the port to be extremely beautiful. The constant flow of people from so many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds reminds me that the United States is a place of immigrants and diversity. And, so, I’m often moved to declare:

Oh, say, can you see, our country’s gorgeous dream: an endless field of green, where everyone can live and play? Our star-spangled banner yet waves, over the land of immigrants and the home of us all!

I spend most of my time at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry on the pedestrian bridge, tossing a ball. I introduce myself to people I meet and ask them to share their stories, experiences and thoughts about the border and baseball. Then, we play catch.

The borders between us disappear when I’m listening to their stories. And our connections deepen when we play catch. It’s amazing to me how, even after sharing incredibly sad and heartbreaking stories, people start smiling and laughing once we play catch. All of a sudden, we are friends, playing and laughing together.

We are all on the same team, after all.

People thank me. And, I thank them for connecting with me and for giving me strength to continue my long 7 mile journey each day: from the port of entry, along the wall, and up to the detention center – and then back again.

KIM ABELES: she knows how to dream in prose

(thank you Fernando Pessoa))


KIM ABELES  6 Self-Portraits with Files  1995
  Los Angeles

 

The interior life is often stupid. Its egotism blinds it and deafens it; its imagination spins out ignorant tales, fascinated. … A mind risks real ignorance for the sometimes paltry prize of an imagination enriched. The trick of reason is to get the imagination to seize the actual world — if only from time to time. (Annie Dillard)

( oxen )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995, Courtesy of the artist

trying to GRAB the ACTUAL WORLD

by Rosanna Albertini

Leaves do not fall on the floor for a reason, a reason we can’t read or measure —secret dance of nature —and the eyes look about the yellow ripples searching for an order that isn’t there, it is only within us, mostly lost in a life we don’t understand and moderately control. Birth and death the ultimate truth. 

I bring back these self-portraits by Kim Abeles today for a special reason: they depict a woman in action, but they are stills. The woman engages all the energy of her body holding, pulling, birthing a package of files that are nothing but life, but once more truly still: documents, memories, flat monuments of some living things. 

The photographs are not about her SELF, they translate into paper images our stubborn conflict within a reality threatening us every day like the big mouth of a crocodile. Oh the teeth! They seem able to crumble every trace of humanity and especially like to chew the remains of freedom. Eventually the crocodile will go back to the swamp. It happened many times in the past. In the meantime our brain is scoured by the news. They are the semblance of life. They wrap themselves around the hours scanning time more than the old clock. See? all of this paragraph is a mental thing, as any thing else which is written.  

Kim, the artist, opens a different chapter: her body deals with the flattened life as another body. We see the weight of saving pieces of life on paper, heavy phantoms of the living, if phantoms can be heavy. 

( pulley I )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995 Courtesy of the artist

( pulley 2 )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995 Courtesy of the artist

( pulleygut )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995 Courtesy of the artist

And we perceive her permanent struggle in preserving movement, the physical connection to something that was living and now is flat and black and white and  packaged. Each photograph is condemned to the same destiny. So you as an artist, Kim, you become a figure on the pile, maybe trying to stop flatness from growing, maybe adding your own?  

“Multiple emotions. Not just one life in one isolated body; make your soul the host of several bodies. Feel it vibrate to the emotions of others as well as to your own and it will forget its own griefs when it ceases to think only of itself. The outer life is not violent enough; more poignant tremors result from inner surges of rapture.” André Gide, The White Notebook

( birthing )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995 , Courtesy of the artist

Online dictionary: e-motion: a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others… moving from, mid 16th century. 

The artist’s actions are literally e-motions. Her soul, invisible, is the engine of her actions, silencing her mind.  

Levitation: reality, the pile of files, looks pregnant with her.

Birthing: she gives birth to the pile of files, just a physical need. 

André Gide again: “I was then a child. I did not understand that the mind is nothing and passes away while the soul still remains after death. … What is the soul?

The soul is our will to love.”

 levitation )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995, Courtesy of the artist

 

Border Ball : THE ROUTE e auguri di buon viaggio

Border-Ball is a 40-day pilgrimage along the U.S. - Mexico border, a movie, and an art installation by Joel Tauber.

Joel Tauber is undertaking a 40-day pilgrimage along the U.S. – Mexico border to build community through baseball.

Growing up, Tauber went to Fenway Park to watch baseball. He dreamed of playing professionally. Baseball, for him, stands for openness and a belief in a welcoming, diverse America. He hopes to encourage conversation and togetherness rather than division and separation.

The journey will begin on Oct. 29. Tauber will start at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California, and will walk along the border wall before heading north two and a half miles to the Otay Mesa Detention Center. He will travel there and back again each day – a seven mile journey that connects legal entry to the U.S. with the border wall and the detention center holding those who might be in the country without all legal permits. While walking, he will be declaring, in English as well as some Spanish, an adaptation of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”:

Walk with me along the border. Play catch with me in front of the wall. Share some hot dogs and salsa. I don’t care what part of the world you’re from. Let’s root, root, root for teamwork. If we don’t find some, it’s a shame. For it’s one, two, three strikes, we’re out at the old ball game.

Tauber will be wearing a custom vintage baseball uniform and backpack in blue, white and red. He will be tossing a baseball as he walks along and inviting people who walk along with him to play catch.

As part of the border walk, Tauber will be filming people he meets and gathering personal reflections and stories related to baseball, immigration and the U.S. He will produce a film and art installation, called Border-Ball, about the experience.

Schedule

Oct 31; Nov 2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29; Dec 1, 3, 5, 7: Meet at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry pedestrian bridge at noon. Share stories (on camera) about baseball, immigration, and the United States until 1 pm. Walk along the border wall from 1-1:30. Rest from 1:30 – 1:45 pm. Walk to the Otay Mesa Detention Center from 1:45 – 2:45 pm. Share stories (on camera) about baseball, immigration, and the United States until 3:45 pm. Walk back to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry from 3:45 – 4:45 pm.

Nov 1, 3, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30; Dec 2, 4, 6: Meet at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry pedestrian bridge at noon. Walk along the border wall from 12:15-12:45. Share stories (on camera) about baseball, immigration, and the United States until 1:45 pm at the eastern end of the Via De La Amistad section of the route. Walk to the Otay Mesa Detention Center from 1:45 – 2:45 pm. Share stories (on camera) about baseball, immigration, and the United States until 3:45 pm. Walk back to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry from 3:45 – 4:45 pm.

Nov 4: Joel Tauber is walking alone with a cinematographer

There are no places to get food or water after leaving the Port of Entry area, so please make sure to bring water with you, and either eat before the walk or bring some food with you as well.

Also: if you have any trouble finding Joel Tauber, you are welcome to call or text: +1 626-399-7746.

 

Tauber was born in 1972 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA and comes from a long line of rabbis. His work focuses on generating conversation and facilitating change. Most recently, the Vintage International Film Festival in Kolhapur, India, named Tauber’s “The Sharing Project” movie “Best International Documentary Film.” He lives and works in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; where he is Associate Professor of Art at Wake Forest University.