Because national divisions and borders are arbitrarily imposed, because cultures separated by invisible barricades continue to share some of the same customs, because people everywhere dream the same dreams — I proposed an exchange of territory between Spain and Morocco as a symbol of cultural interchange.

The Action
The exhibition, Almadraba, was planned for the environs of the Strait of Gibraltar including Gibraltar, Algeciras, Seville, Ceuta and Tarifa in Spain and Tangier in Morocco. The action, La Misma Tierra, was formulated as part of this exhibition. On June 24, 1997, on the beach in Tarifa, Spain a human chain replete with shovels and buckets filled a patera with sand. The patera left from the shore with another boat in pursuit. The patera waiting in Morocco could not leave the shore; the governmental agencies there promised permission and then never gave it. Rather than refusing from the beginning, they simply kept us waiting until it was too late. We were still hopeful that permission would be forthcoming the following day and, in the interest of maintaining that possibility, the press was not informed that the agencies were not responding. The Levanté (a strong trade wind) began to blow the night before the scheduled event. The press reported that the full action was postponed due to the dangerous climactic situation in the Strait. The Spanish half of the action was completed and the boat set out to sea to wait for its counterpart that never arrived.

Pateras are boats used for fishing in Spain and Morocco. Pateras carry black market cargo and illegal immigrants from Spain to Morocco. The boats and their contents often crash against the shore of southern Spain. Hundreds of people have died. The government of Spain takes a similar approach to that of the US government regarding the border with Mexico. They attempt to detain the traffickers and the immigrants by use of patrols. Illegals are returned from whence they came, sometimes to a certain death. The government of Morocco prefers to ignore the existence of the illegal use of the pateras, no bilateral plans exist to deal with the problems. Nothing ever appears in the Moroccan press about the illegals and their travails.

Can an exchange of sand between two shores of the Strait of Gibraltar threaten a government? We are still waiting to receive permission from the Moroccan authorities. The documentation of La Misma Tierra — The Same Land was shown in Tangier and Tarifa along with texts explaining what occurred.

Many thanks to those agencies responsible in Morocco: for reminding us
of the power of art.