Art The photography exhibition, Walls Between People, shows that borders are hardly the solution to conflict

A photograph of “Walls are poison for the mind”, in between two others, becomes a sort of an ushering-into the exhibition “Walls between people” by Alexandra Novoseloff and Frank Neisse.

The exhibition covers the six walls in different parts of the world. There are banners giving an overview of each wall and its history. There is also a write-up at the beginning of each group of photos, almost like a Wikipedia entry about each conflict that surrounds the wall.

Most of the photographs in the six different conflict zones, including “The Barrier” between United States and Mexico, “The Peace Lines” in Northern Ireland and “The Separation Wall” between the Israel and Palestine, feature graffiti.

The graffiti seems to be the only passionately colourful voice of the people that stands out among the blank, grey soulless walls. The graffiti ranges from intricate work, including a sea of faces descending on the US-Mexico Border, messages of “THIS WALL WILL FALL” on the Israel-Palestine wall to revolutionary-history painted onto the Northern Ireland “Peace Lines”.

The lack of such artwork in the Oriental Indo-Pak “Line of Control” and the lack of people in “The Demilitarized Zone” between North and South Korea seems to indicate stricter controls on the permeability border, although the conflict is not any less intense.

The photos of soldiers along the line of control and the barbed wire running along “The Demilitarized Zone” also reflect a more governmental conflict. While the shadows at the Mexican barrier and the people in the car gesturing with a “V” speak of a more people-centric conflict.

“People want to live no matter what and get used to anything, even walls. In the end, people will always overcome walls, as in Berlin in 1989,” says Alexandra Novosseloff, one of the photographers and a research associate at the Centre Thucydide, a research centre of the University of Paris-Panthéon-Assas (Paris 2).

Her insight is revealed in the photograph of street life, complete with pavement shops lining the Israel-Palestine wall and the plants growing on top of the “Green Line” along buildings and structures dividing the Greeks and Turks in Cyprus.

“Walls are counter-productive because they antagonize people. They don't solve the issue of living together. They are an attempt to solve problems, but in fact they worsen them. They make things more complicated. For example, in Palestine, the wall has become part of the problem,” feels Alexandra.

She and Frank Neisse, who works in the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union came upon the idea of capturing the “harsh reality of the walls”, on a trip to Western Sahara in 2001.

“Frank was a blue helmet working for MINURSO at the time. We saw that long wall of 2000 km. When we thought about the situation, we realized that there were other walls around the world, and that this was contradicting the general situation of the world described since the fall of the Berlin Wall: a world with open borders and free movement of peoples and goods.”

“Walls between people” will be exhibited at the Alliance Francaise, Vasant Nagar, until September 17. As a part of the exhibition, there will be a poetry reading on September 17 on walls and conflict.

For further details, contact Monica at 8105675350.