The invisible borders that separate us lie in our throats. The throat emits the sounds of our native language, shaped by where we grew up to pronounce the words just so. It is a vocal passport, a seemingly permanent identity marker that sets us apart.
From the biblical battlefields of old to modern European centers for processing asylum seekers, the way we speak is used to tell friend from foe and decide who gets welcomed in and who gets left out. The film looks at the science, technology, cultural biases, and politics behind our attempts to sort people. Are these borders really as clear as we think?
Starting with what seems to be a trivial security check procedure at the entrance to the Tel Aviv airport, By The Throat explores a more deeply engraved border, albeit an invisible one, a border that marks our oral cavity and defines the sounds and words we can pronounce. We carry with us these limits, created by our mother tongue, becoming ourselves a mobile checkpoint, wherever we are.
Combining filmed testimonies, found footage, youtube clips, and medical imagery, the film moves through sonic, anatomical, and political territories and explores how language and pronunciation are used to define, categorize and control. By visiting various manifestations of Shibboleth – a language test aimed to determine
group belonging – known from biblical times and reaching nowadays language tests in asylum request procedure in Europe, it questions our desire of identification and
The film is made by artist duo Effi Weiss and Amir Borenstein (Born in Israel, living in Brussels). The duo has been working together since 1999. Their work is mainly video-based and often involves performative elements and participatory methods.