Derry musicians bring ‘Borders’ project to Mexico this weekend
Derry musicians Ryan Vail and Elma Orkestra, aka Eoin O’Callaghan, bring their groundbreaking audio-visual project, Borders, to Guadalajara, Mexico this weekend.
In their biggest gig of the year, the musicians perform on Oct. 18th and 19th with the city’s full, 60-piece Zapopan Symphony Orchestra.
The Border takes its audiences on a cinematic journey that questions what borders mean to people, physically and metaphorically. The project began as a non-political reaction to Brexit.
Eoin O’Callaghan explained how the performance in Guadalajara came about.
“About two years ago I was working with other artists in Jalisco and happened to mention the Borders project - it seemed to resonate with them, what with the US border and Trump wall - and felt like something that needed to be performed there,” he said. “We’d also always wanted to perform Borders on a large scale and I already had connections with the Zapopan Symphony Orchestra, so creating this new version just seemed like a good fit.”
The original production featured footage of the Foyle River, Grianán of Aileach fort, and other border landmarks, but for this performance these have been replaced by drone shots of the landscapes of Guadalajara. The voice and words of Dublin spoken word poet Stephen James Smith, on the track, This Island, have been substituted with those of Mexican poet, Elba. Eoin said the original piece “focused on the way we live now, and how it’s okay to be both Irish and British, so we wanted to do something similar in Mexico. Luckily, Elba understood and got what we wanted straight away and will perform her own version with us on the night.” The performance is supported by the British Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Eoin said the drone shots of the coastal landscapes in Mexico look just like Donegal. “I guess it shows how much this is a global story - how lines are just man-made and how this could have taken place on any country on earth,” he said.
Coming up, they will perform Borders in Berlin, for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall; in Tolouse; across the UK; and at SXSW in Austin, Texas, in March. “After that we’re not sure, but it would be amazing to take Borders somewhere like Palestine or North Korea,” Ryan said.
This is not the first time Borders has been performed outside Northern Ireland, with earlier shows across Ireland, the UK and Europe. “The reaction so far has been pretty emotional, even most recently, during our Paris performance, which was unexpected,” Ryan said. “The tears aren’t from sadness or depression, though, but hope.”