Viewing the Strait of Dover through the lens of photography theory
Imagine a world in which each individual has a fundamental right to be reborn. This idle dream haunts Hilde Van Gelder’s associative travelogue that takes Allan Sekula’s sequence Deep Six / Passer au bleu (1996/1998) as a touchstone for a dialogue with more recent artworks zooming in on the borderscape near the Channel Tunnel, such as those by Sylvain George and Bruno Serralongue.
Combining ethnography, visual materials, political philosophy, cultural geography, and critical analysis, Ground Sea proceeds through an innovative methodological approach. Inspired by the meandering writings of W.G. Sebald, Javier Marías, and Roland Barthes, Van Gelder develops a style both interdisciplinary and personal.
Resolutely opting for an aquatic perspective, Ground Sea offers a powerful meditation on the indifference of an increasingly divided European Union with regard to considerable numbers of persons on the move, who find themselves stranded close to Calais. The contested Strait of Dover becomes a microcosm where our present global challenges of migration, climate change, human rights, and neoliberal surveillance technology converge.
This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).
Hilde Van Gelder is professor of contemporary art history at KU Leuven. She is director of the Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography, Art and Visual Culture.