Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Crossroad and a Borderline

When the city of Windsor took down a roadside sign notifying visitors that “You have left the American sector” the response was polarizing to a few, but largely unnoticed. The sign was actually an art installment by Sobey Art Award nominee Ron Terada and, while the general populace failed to notice the pandering of city council to a clientele that are generally viewed more like obnoxious third cousins than close friends, James Patten, the Chief Curator at the Art Gallery of Windsor took the opportunity to begin an examination of border zones.

Nadja Pelkey, an artist working and living in Windsor, has been tapped as the marketing mastermind behind the coming Borderline Case at the Art Gallery October 12th and 13th. “Terada’s work was really just a banal sign meant to stimulate thought and conversation about the nature of borders.” Pelkey said in a recent email interview. Banal or not, the profile of the Windsor-Detroit border as both a social and economic link has been thrust into the open with Terada’s sign being one of the many guideposts leading the way.

The Borderline Case: A Symposium on the Cultural Geography of Windsor/Detroit is the product of the hype and fear-mongering surrounding the art flap above. The result of the efforts of the Art Gallery of Windsor, led by James Patten, hopes to capitalize on the “several academics in the area that are specifically concerned with post-industrial and border cities” according to Pelkey. “There is a great wealth of thought and action” she continues, “not really being tapped right now.” The Borderline Case is intended to bring together academics, activists and interested citizens to discuss and examine the issues at hand through lectures, open forums and art.

With Windsor at a crossroad, a point of view that even Mayor Francis has adopted in recent days with his GreenLink idea, engaging in an intellectually stimulating discussion on the possibilities for sustainability in Windsor is quickly approaching a fever pitch. “Windsor is a very special place” according to Pelkey, “in that the citizenry really has a big stake in the future of Windsor.” An engaged citizenry is essential to the success of any region, large or small. True democracy is not achieved through the simple act of marking a ballot. Democracy is speaking up. Democracy is an action. We must be informed and prepared to act on that information. Patten and Pelkey are doing their part to inform the citizens of Windsor that our current status quo is sub-par by international standards and that, although we may not see it ourselves, we live in the midst of a treasure-trove of diversity and beauty that will sustain us for generations to come. Democracy is powered by people and knowledge. We have both in Windsor, so the buck stops here.

A Borderline Case is taking place at the Art Gallery of Windsor this Friday through to Sunday. Click here for schedules and details

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