Alia Ali

 Alia Ali,  BORDERLAND  series, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist.

Alia Ali, BORDERLAND series, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist.

Alia Ali (b. 1985) is a Yemeni-Bosnian-American multimedia artist. Having traveled to sixty three countries, lived in seven, and grown up among five languages, her most comfortable mode of communication is through image and multi-sensory mediums.

The term “borderland” is most commonly referred to as the crossroads where nations collide. These porous zones diffuse outward from an artificially-imposed, human-made punctuation: a border. In her photographic series BORDERLAND, Alia re-examines how pronounced and perceptible these demarcations can be. Using contrasting fabrics as both a metaphorical and literal visualization of borders, this series invites the viewer to actively participate in exploring the separation between territories as well as the spaces in which they blend together.

To create BORDERLAND, Alia traveled for nine months across eleven regions of the world, connecting with textile artisans living in communities that have been scarred by the imprints of power and destruction. Each photograph depicts an individual artisan posing beneath their own creation, expressing their stories and culture visually through color, texture, and pattern. The subjects of these portraits, called -cludes, are wrapped in layers of fabric that shield them from interacting with anything beyond the textile itself. The inability to know anything about the cloaked subject encourages reflection on our individual relationships with belonging, exile, inclusion, and exclusion. 

What side of the fabric are you on?