Issue 1 of Le monde n’est pas rond contains photographs of a 6” x 4” lenticular card designed by artist Camilo Godoy, combining his two passports to interrogate and examine the global ranking he possesses as a dual citizen of Colombia and the United States. The ‘rankings’ are taken from a 2012 “Visa Restriction Index”, compiled by a law firm specialising in “citizenship planning” and “Residence-by-Investment” programs, catering to rich individuals looking to purchase an ‘honorary’ citizenship that would allow them to go about their business freely around the globe. (Cynically enough, this same firm’s website even has the cheek to cite, as a motto in the sidebar, Benjamin Franklin’s celebrated words “Where liberty dwells, there is my country.“)
From Camilo’s introductory text, Passports in a Global Ranking:
I carry the passport of two nations. One is blue and the other is burgundy. Each one tells a different story about me. When I renewed my blue passport last year it was given to me with a pamphlet from the United States State Department declaring: With Your U.S. Passport, the World is Yours! This statement appropriately refers to the fact that in 2012 those who were U.S. Citizens could travel to one hundred and sixty-six countries visa-free. With my burgundy passport, however, my entry is allowed without a visa to only fifty-nine countries. This passport could have come with a pamphlet stating: ¡Con tu pasaporte colombiano el mundo no es tuyo! (With Your Colombian Passport, the World is Not Yours!).
Straddling the worlds of these two nations, I am excluded and included. I am an “alien” in the United States because of my brown skin and a “gringo” in Colombia because of my semi-broken Spanish. But, I am a privileged migrant, for I have the “proper papers” to move. The consequences of being a person without the “proper papers” are profound and troubling worldwide. In our contemporary globalised world, those who migrate and lack the “proper papers” become anonymous prisoners trapped in the concerted efforts of state practices and mechanisms that regulate freedom of movement.
Here’s a short interview with Camilo Godoy, who works for New York-based organisation Immigrant Movement International. Have a look at other citizenship and border-related artistic works by Camilo on his website, including: Alien, a mirror etched with the word “ALIEN” in a men’s restroom on the 12th floor of the US Department of Justice in NY; Why Borders?, a performance in which a guard was hired to stamp, with invisible ink, the wrist of each person entering a gallery during a group exhibition, with attendees instructed to then check their wrist with a flashlight located in a back room of the gallery, to reveal the words “Why Borders?”; and The Deportation Landscape, a slideshow of colour images, captured using Google Maps, of 80 publicly listed US immigration detention centres.