Borderlines: Personal Stories and Experiences From the Border Counties
Borderlines is a unique contemporary archive of oral testimonies and photographs. It records the voices of 100 people who give their own stories and experiences relating to the border. Instigated in 2004, the Borderlines project emerged in the context of a growing recognition of the value of storytelling in addressing the legacy of conflict. The process of interviewing participants and building the archive was sensitively negotiated.
The project has actively sought to encourage ‘quieter voices’. There are the perspectives of a Traveller woman, an English man whose son was killed; academics; community workers; ex-combatants; mothers; and members of the security forces. There are “everyday” events like getting children to school through roadblocks, telling “lies” about your job to protect your life, or having to leave your land.
The project engaged a team of researchers from diverse backgrounds who live or work in border areas. The agreed approach sought to understand and record the reality as the participants perceived it. This results in richness that gets behind our differences and our stereotypical labels. Each interview is unique: some are very personal, others less so. Some took place over several days in the privacy of the kitchen or sitting room; one in a hotel room in Bosnia. Some are two hours, one is half an hour and one is eight hours long. As the process of interviewing, transcribing, and editing unfolded, some interviewees chose to retract their participation; some wanted to be in the archive and not the book, others needed time to consider.
Photographic workshop sessions introduced ideas of place, space, landscape and topographies. Existing visual representations of the border and effects of media images were discussed. It was agreed that all photographs produced would represent a collective archive for Borderlines. Some participants wished to be visually represented, many chose to remain anonymous. Many of the photographs are produced by or in collaboration with researchers and project coordinators traveling throughout the border region. The Archive is presented as a digital archive, exhibition/installation and book.
The exhibition presents a selection of images from the archive, audio/visual installation and archive interviews. Extracts from the archive are available in a full color 368pp publication on sale in the Gallery Bookshop at a special exhibition price of €30. The Borderlines archive will be accessible to the public through the following supporting organisations: Harbour Museum, Derry; Donegal County Archives; County Museum, Dundalk; Fermanagh County Museum, Enniskillen; Monaghan County Museum and Library Services; Newry & Mourne Arts Centre and Museum. The complete archive will be housed in Linenhall Library, Belfast.