The foreigner plays a crucial role in the performance of citizenship. At the border between citizen and foreigner, the process of “naturalization” is scripted in Immigration Law, and negotiated through the courts. Much is at stake at this dangerous border: defining “us” and/through “them”, establishing and policing access from “them” to “us”, punitive reinforcement, and the punishment of transgressions. Western investment in these stakes is violently apparent, publicly and severely asserted, and for us urgently in need of contestation.

The premise of this project is simple and deliberately absurd: what kind of “elastic tests” can objectively measure a foreigner against the good moral character clause, to determine if they can become “naturalized”? Through this website, we solicit proposals for elastic tests, debate/negotiate the selection process, broadcast the performance of the tests in different locations/countries, archive the results, and provide the final measurements. We contribute the well-behaved foreign body to be subjected to aggression and experimentation, to be tested, classified, stored, measured, expelled. Our re-enactment forcibly makes visible the violent performance through which immigration is institutionally negotiated.

The tests themselves will be performed in different locations and different countries. The project considers the politics of the physical place of performance as a variable in the testing. Can the same test, for instance, be performed in different cities, different counties, and if so, is it still the same test? The audience is essential not only in witnessing the tests, in designing and selecting them, but also in setting the standards against which the test is performed – the normative standard which is a necessary condition of defining good moral character as a question of fact. The tests thus reveal more about the audience than the performer, more about the citizen than the foreigner. The good moral character clause is interpreted relative to the community in which the applicant resides – does the same applicant, undergoing the same test, pass in one location and fail in another?


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