Border, Essay film, Gilles Deleuze, Fold, Film semiotics, Alpi, Havarie, The Great Wall
Problematic ideological strategies of in/visibility are played out today around borders by exploiting advanced image-making technologies and hegemonic media discourses that produce “thin” border images lacking in semiotic complexity. This article responds to calls to move beyond the “line in the sand” metaphor by investigating essay films that experiment with a performative relationship with the border. Their “borderwork” is self-reflexive to the point of becoming a form of theory. To elucidate this theorization of the border, I invoke Derrida’s limitrophic method of “thickening” the limit, mediated via Deleuze’s notion of the fold. By comparing three case studies – Armin Linke’s Alpi (2011), Philip Scheffner’s Havarie (2016), and Tadhg O’Sullivan’s The Great Wall (2017) – I interrogate the strategies that essay films employ to operationalize borders. The article is a first attempt at a semiotic classification of film-essayistic border images, and a contribution to the understanding of essay film as limitrophic audiovisual thinking.