Mirelle Borra’s interest in urgent global subjects merges with her keen sense of aesthetic to create thought-provoking work.
Using moving image, she engages with social and political topics to re-frame these matters in new ways. Mirelle seeks to examine structures of representation through a transnational perspective while staying in constant dialog with the context from which the work is derived. The main focus of her practice is where the personal and the political intersect.
In 2017, she founded the online platform 6x6 project which is dedicated to the dissemination of artists’ moving image works, and to create an ever-growing network among peers.
Her work has shown internationally in film festivals and exhibitions, including the B3 Biennial of the Moving Image 2023 (DE), 22nd Lausanne Underground Film & Music Festival (CH), 20th Millennium Docs Against Gravity (PL), 20th London Short Film Festival (UK), 29th Sheffield DocFest (UK), 19th Vienna Shorts Film Festival (AT), 67th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (DE), 28th International Short Film Week Regensburg (DE), 17th Athens Digital Arts Festival (GR), 3rd FRACTO Experimental Film Encounter, Berlin (DE), 39th Ars Electronica Festival, Linz (AT), 3rd Screen City Biennial, Stavanger (NO) and the 7th Berlin Biennial, KW Institute for Contemporary Art (DE) among others. Mirelle was born in the Netherlands, and after living in New York City for many years, she is currently based in Berlin.
X or Y or Z
HD Video / 07:17 min / 2023
00:22 min excerpt
X or Y or Z is an online-sourced video collage that conflates experiences by multiracial people dealing with issues such as tokenism, racial imposter syndrome, and cultural appropriation. One among other questions the work poses, is our group membership - either self-categorised or chosen by others - considered to be more important in deciding who we are than our own agency as individuals?
HD Video / 10:00 min / 2021
01:00 min excerpt
The visual component of the video ‘Safe Space’ is pieced together from countless YouTube clips of ballroom events from the early nineties—at a time the AIDS epidemic was surging in New York City. Originally a community created by trans and queer people of color in response to a society that marginalized their existence. The ballroom scene provides a safe space for performers to act out various ways of gender expressions. For decades, the ballroom community has influenced pop culture, and it’s vocabulary has seeped into common parlance.
‘Safe Space’ is narrated by AI generated voices that recite contemporary experiences and statements of LGBTQ+ refugees that have been sourced from the internet. The confluence of image and sound seek to depict both the harsh plight of a minority within a minority and the creative resilience and sense of community that emerges from these experiences.
The ballroom community provides a strong support network built upon kinship and solidarity. It represents the concept of a chosen family, as many were rejected by their biological families for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
At a time when the rights of queer people of color are increasingly at risk, the history and legacy of ballroom culture is more important than ever.
The One That Got Away
HD Video / Silent / 05:22 min / 2019
The video ‘The One That Got Away’ makes a compelling plea to a sense of belonging in the midst of urban transformation. Phrases which appear on screen were taken from anonymous letters addressed to ex-lovers posted online—that have been written not to be sent—as a way of seeking closure and being part of the healing process. Conflating numerous of these phrases with meandering moving images of closely cropped urban landscapes seem to refer as much to an absent former lover as to a lost sense of place. ‘The One That Got Away’ evokes a feeling of alienation as well as an unending need to belong.
Major cities around the globe are going through a speculative property development boom. Multinational real estate corporations are buying up large-scale urban land, to churn out high-end, homogeneous looking giant glass towers, without any regard to the local environment.
The exterior of buildings shape our urban experience and provide an emotional connection to a city. Threatened by the surge in corporate re-development, our cities are beginning to lose their individual character, contributing to a lost sense of place among residents.
Since the aim is to extract the highest profit possible, developers focus solely on building higher-end retail chains, luxury apartments, and premium office parks. This can lead to the hollowing out of the social and cultural vibrancy of the city. As urban dwellers are in constant flow by their endless search for affordable housing.
The video ‘The One That Got Away’ reflects on this phenomenon of being in a continuous state of transition. When your environment is changing so rapidly around you, and the differences between global cities are blurring, you find yourself split between the memory of a lost love and the longing for a new one.
‘The One That Got Away’ has been shortlisted for the LOOP Barcelona 2019’s Discover Award.
Somewhere in Between
HD Video / 07:00 min / 2016
The video ‘Somewhere in Between’ reflects on the Indo diaspora after the decolonization of the Dutch East Indies (contemporary Indonesia). Hundreds of thousands of people of Eurasian heritage were forced to leave the country after the Bersiap period (the bloody separation between the Netherlands and its colony).
The narration of the video conflates a number of comments left on online Indo community networks. Shaped like a stream of thoughts — ‘Somewhere in Between’ highlights different aspects of the process to redefine identity and culture.
The starting point for ‘Somewhere in Between’ came from one of my favorite main courses on the menu of Indonesian restaurants in the Netherlands. The dish is called rijsttafel (rice table) an elaborate meal with rice and many side dishes — the origin of the rijsttafel is colonial and it is no longer served in present-day Indonesia. It reveals how traces of the spice trade and three hundred years of a colonial past still remain present in Dutch society today.
‘Somewhere in Between’ is one narrative in an interchanging world of migratory experiences. These particular migrating stories re-contextualize the past and give us insight to the present.