• 05.10.2023


En el borde del border me llamo filo

A meditation on border life between the North and South of the world with Fiamma Montezemolo and Sayak Valencia

Screening & book launch
05.10 | h 18.30
Fondazione ICA Milano
Via Orobia 26, Milano


After years of ethnographic work in Tijuana, artist and anthropologist Fiamma Montezemolo makes the 24-hour video-essay Traces: a living portrait of the wall that separates Tijuana and San Diego.

Based on years of ethnographic work in Tijuana and an ascetic program  of 24hrs filming, the artist and anthropologist Fiamma Montezemolo reflects on her experience in the region by attempting to sculpt a textured living portrait, a sort of biography, of the Wall that separates Tijuana from San Diego. Images of a rusting wall, unruly topography, decaying surveillance structures, furtive moments of undocumented migrants crossings, and dystopian landscapes are interwoven with a mournful voiceover enunciated from a different time and place.

From the border of Tijuana, Mexican activist and intellectual Sayak Valencia resorts to the cinematic category of gore to interpret the global economy from what she calls its B-side, namely the intertwining of organized crime, drug trafficking, and the legitimate use of violence to gain status and power. Capitalismo gore (NERO, 2023) is neoliberal globalization as seen from the border, where violence is daily and death is a profitable commodity; where the erosion of the state, the precarization of work and existence combined with the desire to participate in the banquet of consumption, and a macho culture strongly anchored in national identity, have generated a new social class and a model of life that seems to represent the only alternative to poverty and migration.

As part of its public program, Fondazione ICA Milano is hosting a screening of Traces and a dialogue between the two scholars on the historical, economic, geopolitical, and cultural roots of this model, and possible ways to subvert it from an anticolonial and transfeminist perspective.

Moderator: Alessandra Castellazzi


Fiamma Montezemolo is an artist (MFA, San Francisco Art Institute) and an anthropologist (PhD, University of Naples l’Orientale). She is an established scholar of border studies and Professor in the Department of Cinema & Digital Media at the University of California, Davis. She has exhibited in various institutions, among the most recent: Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City (2019), Herbert Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University (2019), Jewish Museum Munich, Germany (2019), La Galleria Nazionale, Roma (2019), Headlands Center for the Arts, California (2018), ASU Art Museum, Arizona (2019), Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco (2016), Armory Center for the Arts, Los Angeles (2014). She is represented by Magazzino.gallery in Rome. She is author of two monographs: one on Zapatismo and the other on Chicano/a politics of representation, as well as co-author (with Rene Peralta and Heriberto Yépez) of Here is Tijuana (Blackdog Publishing, London, 2006) and coeditor (with Josh Kun) of Tijuana Dreaming, Life and Art at the Global Border (Duke U. Press, 2012). In 2022, she was awarded the Italian Council Minister of Culture Contemporary Art award in collaboration with On Public and NERO.

Sayak Valencia is a PhD in feminist philosophy, theory and criticism, performer, essayist, poet and transfeminist activist. In 2002, she co-founded the interdisciplinary feminist collective La Línea, which critically explores  the artistic and writing process in the Tijuana-San Diego border area. She is currently a lecturer and researcher at the Cultural Studies department of the Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Mexico.


En el borde del border me llamo filo / Sul bordo del border sono una lama