Cultural Exchange Rate

The cruelest of borders are invisible to the eye and present in every day life. The death traps set within a moving body of water and the concealed militarization of faraway border villages.

Cultural Exchange Rate is an interactive live art project in which artist Tania El Khoury shares her family memoirs of life in a border village between Lebanon and Syria. One marked by war survival, valueless currency collection, brief migration to Mexico, and a river that disregards the colonial and national borders. The audience is invited to immerse their heads into one family’s secret boxes to explore sounds, images, and textures of traces of more than a century of border crossings.

Cultural Exchange Rate is based on the artist’s recorded interviews with her late grandmother, oral histories collected in her village in Akkar, the discovery of lost relatives in Mexico City, and the family’s attempt to secure dual citizenship.


Interactive installation performance by Tania El Khoury 2019
Production Design: Petra Abousleiman
Research: Ziad Abu-Rish, May Haider, Mariam Saada, and Alexander Mayagoitia
Sound Design: Fadi Tabbal
Live Video Editing: Ali Beidoun
Graphic Design: Jana Traboulsi
Cinematography: Luke Bryant and Tania El Khoury
Spanish Translation: Ziad Chakaroun
Special thanks: Paul Trad Kuri and Camila Pastor
Archives: El Khoury Family Papers (Lebanon and Mexico); Archivo General de la Nación (México); SRE – Acervo Histórico Diplomático (México)

Produced by Bard Fisher Center, Spielart Festival, and Onassis Stegi.


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