Fragment, Reassemble, Repeat: Productive Border-Perforations in Works by Leïla Sebbar, Farah Khelil, and Martina Melilli

Kate Roy
Franklin University Switzerland

This paper investigates the formal means by which three practitioners, French writer Leïla Sebbar, Tunisian artist Farah Khelil, and Italian filmmaker Martina Melilli create cross-Mediterranean Deleuzoguattarian “holey spaces” in their work, that challenge, in particular, the memory borders between North and South. Exploring the use of virtual and actual holes, points, and collages in Sebbar’s alphabet book Voyage en Algéries autour de ma chambre (Voyage in Algerias around my room; 2008), in Khelil’s perspective-bending Point de vue, point d’écoute (Viewpoint, Listening-Point 2013), and multi-material, implicitly navigational Point d’étape (Waypoint; 2016-), as well as in Melilli’s medial border transgressions in her film My Home, in Libya (2018), I posit that the disruptive spaces generated by these works reshape the fabric of their Mediterranean pasts and presents. The Deleuzoguattarian notion of “holey space” with which I engage recognizes the multifaceted and multiplied nature of these spaces, neither completely “striated” (controlled by power structures), nor completely “smooth” (free of any state intervention past or present). The perforation of border spaces of the present mines colonial pasts, bringing to light, interrogating, and potentially transforming their contemporary residue.

KEYWORDS: Holey Space, Assemblage, Rhizome, Mediterranean, (Post)colonialism, Memory, Migration

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