Border Tours from the collection of the Arts Council

Border Tours is a floor map installation and an audio tour of a Direct Provision Room that was commissioned by and installed for the Tulca Festival of Arts in Galway 'The Law is a White Dog' 2020 curated by Sarah Browne. 

The Art Council of Ireland recently acquired 'Border Tours' for their permanent collection. See

When you step into 'Border Tours', you step into unauthorised access of one of Ireland’s open prisons - you step into a small room in a Direct Provision Centre somewhere in or around Galway. Listen to the audio instructions. Follow the footsteps. Here you share space with other bodies - invisible bodies that live there in claustrophobic and limited quarters with all their belongings. With and through your body, as agent and instrument, I want to engage with your embodied understanding of spatial in/justice. I hope to stage, choreograph and inspire your performative engagement with the lives that asylum seekers are forced to live.

'Border Tours' is a detailed floor map of a room in a DP Centre somewhere in and around Galway. It took almost a year to piece together the intricate details of the room for a family of 5. The installation is accompanied by a 12 minute audio tour that takes you through an embodied experience of a cramped living space and the daily trials of a family living in the Direct Provision system. ( You see a participant taking the tour in the photograph).

For 'Border Tours' I worked closely with the MASI and Abolish DP Campaigns for what seemed like years, piecing together the details of a room in a DP centre. With their guidance I had access to their substantial archive of images, videos and firsthand accounts of the spaces I was concerned with. All the 'gazillion' details of my installation had to be carefully constructed to protect their sources. The DP system, being a semi-secret series of 'black/grey' sites does not allow access or look favourably on any of its residents granting access to the system.

Go experience 'Border Tours' for Tulca 2020 at the Festival Gallery in Galway Ireland. Go walk in the shoes of someone living in a DP centre. Go experience it through your body.
See short video here:

You can experience the full 13 minute tour here

Image 1 and 3: Border Tours by Rajinder Singh for Tulca Festival of the Arts 2020 curated by Sarah Browne, video still, Jonathan Sammon, camera by Soft Day Media, Drone by Mary McGraw and Model is Kate McSharry.
Image 2: Border Tours by Rajinder Singh for Tulca Festival of Arts 2020 curated by Sarah Browne Photo by Ros Kavanagh

The acquisition by Art Council is great news in many ways. It ensures the longevity of the artwork as it will be available on loan. It will be seen and experienced again especially since so few saw it the first time. It will allow people to experience what it is like to live in a DP system with their family and all their life belongings.
Due to the nature of the artwork, I workshopped the ideas and the problems around the acquisition with several groups of people particularly people living in and survivors of, the Direct Provision System. The process helped me to develop a set of guidelines for future loans and installation of the artwork which I worked with the very supportive staff of the Arts Council to include with the acquisition. The following statement will also accompany all publicity on the acquisition:
My name is Rajinder Singh and I am the artist that created the artwork ‘Border Tours’ with the help and support of several groups of migrant activists in Ireland. I have not experienced the Direct Provision (DP) system, but I am a migrant, and a person of colour, who believes that exposing the carceral racialized spaces of the Direct Provision system is crucial in order to make visible the problems within it. Due to the sensitive nature of this artwork, I have set out a few guidelines for future loans and installation of 'Border Tours' for the benefit of the people living in the DP system and its survivors. These guidelines were put together through a series of consultations and workshops with people living in and survivors of the DP system as well as activists, academics and curators connected to and concerned with the ending and abolishing of the system. Money from the acquisition is pledged to the end DP campaigns and the mental health of people living in the DP system and its survivors around Ireland.

© Choregraphing Border Movements. Design by Fearne.