ANIMATION DOES TO HISTORY WHAT IT DOES TO NATURE. ANIMATION EVOKES HISTORY, PLAYS WITH IT, UNDERMINES IT, SUBVERTS IT, BUT IT DOES NOT HAVE IT, JUST AS IT DOES NOT HAVE NATURE. IT HAS SECOND NATURE. OR DIFFERENT NATURE. IT HAS DIFFERENT HISTORY. IT MODELS THE POSSIBILITY OF POSSIBILITY. 
-ESTHER LESLIE FROM “ANIMATING HISTORY”

100 Partially Obscured Views/100 Vistas Parcialmente Oscurecidas  (2015-2022)

I am not Fronteriza, but I come from border people.

Derivative of the place name “Aintab” also called “Gaziantep,” a border city across from Aleppo in Northern Syria, my surname, “Antebi,” is rooted in borderism. Most of my Sephardic Jewish ancestors on my father’s side identified closely with Arab culture, it’s no wonder that my father’s long time business partner in El Paso, Texas was Palestinian. This complexity of identity rooted in place is part of my family history, my name, and ultimately, my relationship to the Mexico/United States border. In recent years both borderlands have taken center stage in the dehumanizing treatment of political refugees. This film has a lot to do with bearing witness.

I was raised in the borderlands of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. In the years since I graduated from high school in 1993, I watched the two cities, that once shared the same name and continue to share community, become increasingly dissected by federal political, social, economic, and environmental policies designed to obstruct the movement of people, culture, and the river with two names.

In 2015 I received a generous film/video grant from the Jerome Foundation which initiated the production of this film. I knew that I wanted to trace the roots of colonial treaties, policies, and personal history to better understand this contemporary moment. In my work I have returned to the postcard as an object, an indexical document—that is almost always out of sync or time or tone with the moment at hand, as well, a type of open letter. When I began this project I purchased a vintage linen postcard on eBay of the Franklin Mountains with the caption “The most lettered mountain in the world.” This unencumbered image of the blocky letters assembled from painted rocks scattered across the mountain, the backdrop of my young adulthood, got me thinking about the graphic language of the mountains that comprised El Paso Del Norte/The Pass of the North. I began collecting more vintage postcards from the late 19th century through the early 1970s.

The accumulation of these images were a way to track perspectives and changing notions of when and how the border was constructed and what constitutes a monumental image meant to entice tourists to visit these places. The postcards also enabled me to respond, reflect, and interrogate the question of “what and for whom is a monument” and “how can monuments or monumentality also double as memorials?”

Gloria Anzaldúa, the renowned scholar, poet, auto historian, and the first academic to broach the topic of border theory, uses the Nahuatl word Nepantla to talk about the liminal space of binaries (geographic, cultural, gender, language, etc.) or in-betweenness. This space of transition or transgression or morphing offering the possibility of new-hybridizations and meaningful bridges similarly to the way in which an animation is formed by creating continuity between frames (also called in-betweens). I also acknowledge the construction of borders is the very conditions that make Anzaldúa’s person and work possible. And similarly the space between frames is the very place where the persistence of vision occurs and connects and activates the continuity of two separate places.

The idea of building a film about this region constructed almost entirely out of transitions was a strategy from the start. Two constraints informed my process in assembling this film. One was the idea of a film entirely composed of transitions—the basis for the first half of the film. And the second constraint was only to collaborate with people from the borderlands region.

In the process of collecting hundreds of iconic postcards from El Paso/Juárez, I discovered that my childhood friend, Claudia Muñoz Helming ‘s abuelito, Roberto López Díaz, authored the majority of tarjeta postales between 1950-1980 and as such became Chihuahua’s most prominent postcard maker in Juárez, Chihuahua, and Mexico, and possibly one of Mexico’s premiere documentarians.

El Paso and Juárez share history, share people, share each other’s gaze, their differences are constructed by imperialist treaties and policies, and obstructions that insist on their difference. 

Screening at Cornell Cinema (X)trACTION Program (2022)

Screening at Arsenal Berlin (X)trACTION Program (2022) *For this Berlin edition, (X)-trACTION wrote a manifesto as part of the collaboration between the Harun Farocki Institut and the Berliner Gazette’s project After Extractivism which is available here on their media partner’s website NON.

100 Partially Obscured Views / 100 Vistas Parcialmente Oscurecidasscreening at the Rio Grande Theater, Las Cruces, New Mexico in conjunction with Icons and Symbols of the Borderland, curated by Diana Molina (September 2022)

Included in a forthcoming exhibition as part of the 2022/2023 MexiCali Biennial The Land of Milk & Honey / La tierra que mana leche y miel

Official selection Lunenburg Doc Fest, Lunenburg Nova Scotia Canada

Official selection Oaxaca Film Festival, Oaxaca, Mexico 

Included in a forthcoming exhibition as part of the 2022/2023 MexiCali Biennial The Land of Milk & Honey / La tierra que mana leche y miel

Included in The Arizona Biennial 2023 at the Tucson Museum of Art Curator: Taína Caragol

Earlier iteration screenings…

Presenting 100 Partially Obscured Views of the El Paso/Juárez Border at Judson Memorial Church on May 8th part of StoryLab’s “Borderlands–Visual Art from the Resistance!” (2019)

Presenting 100 Partially Obscured Views of the El Paso/Juárez Border  at NMSU’s Feminist Border Arts Film Festival at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM (2019)

Animating the World, Gestures for a Plague Season or Goodbye Earth(works) (2020-ongoing)

Animating the World or Gestures for a Plague Season or Goodbye Earthworks is a series of over fifty small black and white films (each under one minute) that began in the Spring of 2020 just shortly after Covid-19 began to plague New York. I am an animator, interested in movement, loops and cycles as allegories for time and animism in relationship to the natural world. In 2021, I assembled a selection of these small films as a seasonal clock for “The Clock Tells the Hour” organized by Éireann Lorsung and presented by Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. The reel is divided into four-parts (each 1 minute and 7 seconds) demarcating time from a psycho-seasonal vantage point. https://vimeo.com/534993406/d513ca236d

Premiered at The Clock Tells the Hour via Maine Writers & Publisher’s Alliance

The City I love is Destroying Itself (2017 for Longreads)

Animated Interview with El Paso historian David Dorado Romo

Line Becomes…(2020)

Public Domain Interventions (2018-2021)