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Artists’ Film International 2020

August 22 & 29 at 1pm CST

Grammar of Gates / Gramática de las puertas

by Miguel Fernández de Castro

Organized in conjunction with Whitechapel Gallery in London, Artists’ Film International (AFI) is a program that showcases international artists working in film, video and animation. Every year all participating institutions nominate a moving-image work from an artist living and working in their country.

For AFI 2020, Ballroom Marfa selects Miguel Fernández de Castro’s film Grammar of Gates/Gramática de las puertas. This dynamic visual and aural collage traces the overlapping territories, languages, and conflicts that mark the U.S.-Mexico border within the sovereign Tohono O’odham Nation. The artist weaves together excerpts from the 1970 movie Geronimo Jones, drone and surveillance-like imagery of the landscape, and an affectless recitation of phrases drawn from A Practical Spanish Grammar for Border Patrol Officers.

The rote repetition from the textbook sets a backdrop for the banal and brutal architectures of power situated at the border. Via this military mantra the video registers who navigates the territory, legally and illegally, and the various physical and invisible barriers they might face. The artist uses an observatory set on a sacred mountain and a blocked gate, meant to connect ancestral O’odham lands, as indices of the degradation of stewardship and access. Carefully grafting disparate source material, de Castro illustrates the language of power that defines the edges of a violent dynamic that in turn defines the border.

Watch Grammar of Gates

If you missed our screening events, you can still watch Miguel Fernández de Castro’s film below and all AFI 2020 films on Ballroom’s Vimeo.


On August 22 & 29 a selection of AFI films will screen on Ballroom’s Vimeo film channel. Grammar of Gates launches AFI 2020 with a special introduction from the artist. Additionally, an online interview will be published, providing further context to de Castro’s work. AFI 2020 continues on August 29 with two additional selections, followed by a Q+A with artist Lisa Tan and Ballroom curator Daisy Nam.

August 22, 1 pm CST

Miguel Fernández de Castro, special introduction, Grammar of Gates/ Gramática de las puertas (21 mins.)
Selected by Ballroom Marfa

Raqs Media Collective, Passwords for Time Travel (10 mins.)
Selected by Project 88, Mumbai

August 29, 1 pm CST

Rhea Storr, Junkanoo Talk (12 mins.)
Selected by Whitechapel Gallery, London

Lisa Tan, My Pictures of You (23 mins.)
Selected by Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm
Followed by a Q + A with the artist via Zoom

All AFI 2020 films are available to watch online on Ballroom’s Vimeo.


Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, Texas – Miguel Fernández de Castro, Grammar of Gates

Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden – Lisa Tan, My Pictures of You

The Cultural Centre of Belgrade, Belgrade –  Bojan Fajrić, The Cause of Death

Crawford Art Gallery, Cork Ireland – Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Inscriptions (One Here Now)

Fundación PRÓA, Buenos Aires, Argentina –  Leticia Obeid, Jano

Friends of Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa – Lerato Shadi, Mabogo Dinku

GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy – Francesco Pedragli, Racconto antiorario (6 costellazioni) / Scripting anticlockwise (6constellations)

İstanbul Modern, Istanbul, Turkey – Ergin Çavuşoğlu, Desire Lines/ Tarot & Chess

KMW Art Centre, Beijing  – Yu Guo, Jiéjiè (Enchantment)

Mohammad and Mahera Abu Ghazaleh Foundation, Amman, Jordan  – Mohamed A. Gawad, Betalpha (Balbalah)

Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, Russia – Evgeny Granilshchikov Courbet’s Funeral

Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Poland – Dominika Olszowy, Wanda Wanton

Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k), Berlin, Germany – Vika Kirchenbauer, YOU ARE BORING!

Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong – Yao Qingmei, Sanzu Ding and It’s Patterns: 1. A major archeological discovery

Project 88, Mumbai, India – Raqs Media Collective, Passwords for Time Travel

Tromsø Kunstforenig, Tromsø, Norway – Daisuke Kosugi, A False Weight

Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK – Rhea Storr, Junkanoo Talk