Document Type



This essay considers the airport as an international border area. Its analysis is based on three linked premises, which are grounded in humanistic and social-scientific theory and research: (1) in airports, legal and political practices of sovereignty, jurisdiction, and control become disaggregated; (2) borders between territories do not represent the edges of Euclidean geopolitical planes but ought, rather, to be considered as a three-dimensional volumes; and (3) the airport exemplifies and dramatizes a broader historical trend in which the space of the border has proliferated and become distended, appearing not merely at the edges of territories but within and throughout. Following an introductory discussion of the defection scene in the 1963 autobiography of the ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, these theoretical arguments are exemplified via recent European legislation, political policy, and legal judgments. The implications of political theory and practice are most fully articulated, however, through the work of the British visual artist, Mark Wallinger (b. 1959). The essay focuses, in turn, on Wallinger's book about borders, thresholds, and frontiers, The Russian Linesman (2009); his Turner Prize-winning recreation of Brian Haw's famous anti-war protest, State Britain (2007); and Threshold to the Kingdom (2000), a video installation focusing on the boundary between the airport's international transit zone and the sovereign territory of the United Kingdom.