BORDERED LIVES – The Immigration Detention Archive
Bosworth, von Zinnenburg Carroll, Balzar
print publication, 120 pages, Oxford, Sternberg Press, 2020

The experience of detention from the perspective of the immigrant, drawing on the fields of art, design, and criminology.

Drawing on original documents, photographs, and detainee artwork, Bordered Lives offers a unique insight into the experience of immigration detention in the United Kingdom. With interdisciplinary backgrounds in art, design, and criminology, the authors present views of everyday life under this form of border control. In offering a glimpse within these hidden sites, they explore fundamental questions about coercion, censorship, and control, as well as belonging and resistance.

To Be Seen: On the Politics behind the Immigration Detention Archive
statement by Christoph Balzar

In 2017, I joined this project to assist Mary Bosworth and Khadjia von Zinnenburg Carroll with the design of the book „BORDERED LIVES – The Immigration Detention Archive“. In this role, I compiled and disseminated images they had collected and taken in British detention centers. Bosworth and Carroll refer to this collection of materials as the „Immigration Detention Archive.“

As a group, we discussed the publication of these materials for a very long time. In our conversations, we problematized and weighed up our sense that
the „Immigration Detention Archive“ had to be made public even if we could
not reach out to the authors who created the images anymore. They were
already deported. It would have neither been ethically acceptable to hide
those images or to only show them to a select few. The Immigration Detention Archive needs to be seen by the broader public, we believe, if they are to understand the living conditions and realities of those who are being detained and deported in their name, not least for profit by private corporations.

The situation of the prisoners in these centers is Kafkaesque, on a level that is difficult to comprehend, let alone convey. The art workshops in these facilities provide people facing deportation with paper, crayons and glitter to express their feelings. The cynicism of this gesture is unfathomable. Many detainees who provided Bosworth and von Zinnenburg-Carrol with their pictures for the Immigration Detention Archive yearned for visibility. They explicitly wanted to be seen in their pain and in their political protest. They wanted to be seen as individuals and, in some cases, even as writers and artists.

Their invisibility is an essential aspect of the tragedy of global inequality
that is playing out on the borders of Europe.

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