Borders Without End

An installation about borders, the power structures they enact, and how to question them


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Philosophy / Theory
  • Politics / Economics

Organizing Institutions



Michael Dempsey


Special thanks to the Arts Council of Ireland

Opens to public



4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Slought is pleased to announce Borders Without End, an installation about borders, the power structures they enact, and how to question them, on display from January 18-February 11, 2022. The exhibition features the work of Elaine Byrne, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Camel Collective and others, and builds upon the exhibition Worlds Without End: Stories Around Borders, organized by Michael Dempsey and Sara Reisman for the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, Ireland (2020/2021). An artist talk will take place online on Thursday, January 27, 2022 at 12pm EST, followed by an online symposium on Friday, February 4, 2022, that seeks to rethink bordering practices and their effects (more information forthcoming). Please note visitors to the exhibition are required to schedule a reservation through Eventbrite prior to arrival and follow our COVID-19 visitation guidelines.

The subject of borders animates contemporary political discourse, playing a strategic role in the world's fabrication. The modern cartographical representation of the border as a geographical line has obscured the complexity of the border by masking the multiplication of different types of borders and the ways they intersect and engage with each other. The fall of the Berlin Wall signalled a new era of cross-border unity and understanding. Celebrating its collapse, German President Horst Koehler pronounced that the "edifice of fear" had been replaced by a "place of joy," opening up the possibility of a "cooperative global governance which benefits everyone." But the opposite happened; these edifices of fear, both real and imaginary, are being built everywhere.

Borders are complex social institutions that connect and divide and cannot be described simply in terms of exclusion/inclusion. Insofar as borders make divisions and establish connections, they are epistemological devices. As Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson argue in Border as Method, or, The Multiplication of Labor (2013), borders are essential to the way we live because they facilitate the conceptual taxonomies that structure the movement of thought; these conceptual borders often intertwine with geographical borders and have great philosophical relevance. Moreover, in The Borders of Europe (1998), Étienne Balibar remarks that borders are not necessarily where they are supposed to be according to the modern geopolitical imaginary: "borders [...] are no longer at the border, an institutionalized site that could be materialized on the ground and inscribed on the map, where one sovereignty ends, and another begins." For Balibar, far from disappearing, borders are being "multiplied and reduced localization, [...] thinned out and doubled, [...] no longer the shores of politics but [...] the space of the political itself."

The notion that borders have undergone some sort of transformation in their nature and location, and that the modern political subject is also shaped by borders, is a central preoccupation of this exhibition. The works featured in Borders Without End explore the visual paradox of walls, and how that which appears as the articulation of state sovereignty, may actually express its demise relative to other kinds of global forces. Here, different types of borders inevitably fold into one another, and the notion of maintaining sharp, contiguous distinctions between anything is impossible and inevitably breaks down.

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Participating Artists

Lawrence Abu Hamdan's interest in sound and its intersection with politics originates from his background as a touring musician and facilitator of DIY music. Abu Hamdan received his PhD in 2017 from Goldsmiths College London. In 2019 Abu Hamdan was one of the four joint winners of the Turner Prize with his exhibition Earwitness Theatre and his performance After Sfx. In 2017 his film Rubber Coated Steel won the Tiger short film award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the audience award at 25 FPS Festival in Zagreb and the Dialog Award at European Media Art festival in Osnabrück. In 2016 he won the Nam June Paik Award for new media. His works are part of collections at MoMA, Guggenheim, Van AbbeMuseum, Centre Pompidou and Tate Modern

Elaine Byrne has had several solo shows including borderline (Dublin), Women in Boxes (New York), La Diritta Via (Rome), Ruam (Dublin) and RAUMPLAN (Limerick). Group shows include the Hugh Lane Gallery (Dublin), Douglas Hyde Gallery (Dublin), Elizabeth Foundation (NY),the 8th Floor (NY) and ISCP (NY). In 2014 her sculpture Raum won the 8th Arte Laguna prize for sculpture, and in 2016 her sculpture Endless Resistance won the Farm residency as Combat Art prize finalist, Milan. She was also awarded residencies at ISCP, Art OMI, Soma Mexico and the Arctic Circle. Her works are part of collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rosenbach Museum and Library (Philadelphia), the Office of Public Works Ireland and the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation. She is currently a PhD candidate at Temple University, Philadelphia.

Camel Collective consists of Anthony Graves (b. 1975, South Bend, IN) and Carla Herrera-Prats (b. 1973–d. 2019, Mexico City). Their work in video, photography, and sculpture is informed by research on collaborative production, marginal histories, and the impacts of technology on human affect. Camel has had solo exhibitions at Ulterior Gallery (NYC), Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (Mexico City), REDCAT Gallery (LA), Casa del Lago, (Mexico City), and SixtyEight Art Institute (Copenhagen), among others institutions. Their works have been featured at The Queens International 2018: Volumes (NYC), Trienal de Artes Frestas, Sesc, Sorocaba, (Brazil), Trienal Poli/Gráfica de San Juan (Puerto Rico), Mass MoCA, (North Adams, MA), and the Bard Hessel Museum (Annendale-on-Hudson, NY). The duo has been the recipient of numerous awards and residencies. Graves continues to work as Camel Collective and is represented by Ulterior Gallery in New York

"We need to see a border not as that which is either fixed or that as such must be overcome but as an evolving construction that has both practical merits and demerits that must be constantly reweighted."

— John Agnew, Borders on the mind: re-framing border thinking (2008)