The Mapping Journey Project comes out of the artist’s long-term exploration of what she has called the “gestures and discourses of resistance as elaborated and delivered by members of political minorities.” This immersive video installation chronicles the stories of eight individuals who have been forced by political and economic conditions to travel illegally, and whose covert journeys have taken them throughout the Mediterranean Basin. Khalili met each of her subjects by chance before inviting them to participate in this work. The videos depict the hands of each participant, their faces unseen, as they map their trajectories in permanent marker and narrate their journeys—in some cases many years long or interrupted by periods of detainment. With this work, Khalili takes on the challenge of developing critical and ethical approaches to questions of citizenship, community, and political agency.
In the installation, the eight videos are projected onto individual suspended screens, which viewers are free to navigate in any sequence. Taken as a whole, the work is a nuanced portrayal of migration as described by those who have experienced it, in contrast with the narratives presented by systems of surveillance, international border control, and the news media. In this way, the videos comprise an alternative geopolitical map, defined by the fragmented experiences and precarious living conditions of stateless people.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)