Borders of the World

The Amsterdam-based creative mind Ruben Pater, working under the moniker Untold Stories, first caught our attention in 2013 with his ‘Drone Survival Guide‘. Two years earlier, Pater presented another remarkable project named the ‘Borders of the World’ notebooks in which he just as masterfully implements a visual narrative on a geopolitical issue – in this particular case having not lost any of its relevance in the years that have passed since (or maybe even becoming more urgent..). Central inspiration for the project are the numerous fortified borders one finds throughout the world. Many of them being heavily guarded -even dividing nations at war like in North and South Korea- or just dividing the fortunate and the less fortunate, like the enclave in Melilla and the Evros fence between Turkey and Greece. Studying these ‘walls of the world’, Pater observed distinctive patterns in the different fences guarding its nations, which he translated directly onto the pages of the notebooks representing six different borders. The results form a project which still impresses us greatly. 

When we look closer at these walls of the world, the fences create distinctive patterns, designed and constructed to withstand forces of migration. Each fence has its unique metal signature. This series of books recreate these border patterns in cheaply printed notebooks, to use these borders as blank pages, sketchbooks, or journals.

Ruber Pater is a Sandberg Institute Graphic Design MA graduate, who besides his projects teaches at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. At the core of all his Untold Stories projects are geopolitical issues which he translates into visual narratives, marrying the fields of journalism and design in elegant projects, which often are the product of interdisciplinary collaborations. Historic and sociologic research always forms the factual core on which a complementary form is applied, with perfect examples like the ‘Drone Survival Guide‘ or these ‘Borders of the World‘ notebooks, which Pater debuted with 3 editions and over the years expanded with another 3 borders translated onto paper.

Many of today’s borders were drawn by 19th and 20th century colonial powers. The location of these borders was often decided far away in Europe. In 1916 the Englishman Mark Sykes and the Frenchman François Georges-Picot held a secret meeting to divide the Ottoman empire into what is now the Middle East. Famously Sykes said ”I should like to draw a line from the e in Acre to the last k in Kirkuk.’ This straight line still marks the border between Syria, Jordan, and Iraq today.

The notebooks are still available for €15 each, as a set of three for €40 or all six together for €80 .

Photography by Ruben Pater (Untold Stories).

Order the Borders of the World Notebooks here