Distributor: Women Make Movies
Performing the Border explores a world along the Mexico/US border by presenting an inside look at pervasive maquiladoras, US-implemented factories, in Juarez, Mexico, “the city that produces.” One activist in the documentary describes the border as the result of an unequal power relationship between two nations. Ursula Biemann gives a public voice to the women who live and work in the area through interviews with factory workers, prostitutes, activists, and journalists. She uses experimental documentary methods that include sound image disjunction, scripted voiceover, found footage, scrolling text, and split screens.
The film brings a personal view to industrial work that and forces awareness to the labor that goes into ordinary products, bought in the US, like lingerie and microchips. Biemann’s focus, however, remains on a deeper issue instigated by the use of women along the border. She points out that the gendered use of women as merely part of the machinery forces the fragmentation of the female body into a simple unit of production. This dissociates the women from their bodies, resulting in a gendered dehumanization and transforms a person into a “marketable good.” The younger women are most degraded by the maquiladoras, poverty, and devaluation of female voice. Ultimately, Biemann documents, dehumanizing the women results in their victimization in violent serial murders. The women in the documentary are clearly the backbones of their society, as the hope, sustainers of commerce and mothers of the future generation. In Performing the Border, Biemann encourages them to speak their truths and through their eloquence, reveals the gender disparities corrupt industrialization creates.
Other works by Ursula Biemann:
Remote Sensing (2006)
Writing Desire (2001)
Ch. 7: Videographies of Navigating Geobodies, Transnational feminism in film and media
by Katarzyna Marciniak, Anikó Imre, and Áine O’Healy
Journey Shared: Ursula Biemann’s Been There and Back Back to Nowhere in Transnational Spaces
by Berelowitz, Jo-Anne
Written by Madrianne Wong