MIA released her latest video “Borders” recently and caused, as she so often does, an Internet uproar. Her self-directed video is a visual commentary on border regimes and the so-called “refugee crisis.” Similar to her previous works, “Borders” immediately gave birth to a number of critical conversations across social media on the politics behind MIA’s imagery.
In her video, the 40-year-old multimedia artist performs in front of a large number of male actors who climb border fences, are cramped together on fishing boats, build a human vessel and sit in thermal blankets on wave breakers. The slick video is impressive and beautiful, to say the least. But it also carries a scathing political message by critiquing the nation-states that construct borders to separate the “haves” from the “have-nots” of this world. In addition, the lyrics also mock hashtag activism by asking “Slaying it / Whats up with that?… Love wins/Whats up with that?”
So far, the video has received widespread critical acclaim and has been called both “daring” and “timely.” Since its launch, it has been described and labeled across media as “MIA travelling with refugees” or “MIA embarking on a refugee journey”. Some journalists wondered why it was MIA, rather than Kanye West, Rihanna or Bono, who first approached the topic of refugees. Others were in awe of the British Tamil artists’ ability to metaphorically visualise an issue that has been marked by dehumanising labels and imageries with, for instance, refugees climbing in a pattern across wire fences to spell “LIFE” with their bodies.”