This exhibit highlights a documentation project I have been working on since 2002 using the US/Mexico border, Israel’s wall in Palestine, and the structures used to cut off Spanish Melilla from Morocco. It tells a story and allows a glimpse of migrants attempting to reach the “promised land” of work and ability to provide for their families only to come up against brutal and militarized structures that keep them exiled from the western world. It tells a story of indigenous peoples made refugees on their own land. It tells a story of these people and the structures that alienate them from their dreams. And, as this show highlights, for those of us from the quote unquote West, and for those of us with white skin, it tells the story of our own culpability in this globalized world.
This body of work first occurred to me in 2002 as I watched Israel build its wall in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. I watched from the first of the groundbreaking as this monster called a ‘security barrier’ by some, the apartheid wall by others, cut it’s way through the orchards and groves, through the villages and through the heart of the people.
I would stand at this structure or drive by in a taxi and think; we think ourselves so civilized, so mature in the world and yet these are the answers we come up with to solve what we see as a problem – build a wall to lock the others out, build a fence to keep out of view the problems we are selves have created but don’t want to take responsibility for. And, the nail in the coffin, let’s build this wall on our neighbor’s land, let’s build this fence on the land of those we criminalize and lock out to begin with.
It struck me as awesome the state of mind of those who abuse power, of those who benefit so greatly from privilege in this world.
When I returned to the United States after this first brush with the absurd, I began to research borders and different situations around the world where ‘first world’ mentality created lines in the sand that took form, were deadly, and at the same time being crossed by those willing to die for what lie on the other side. I came to realize this concept was not so unusual a means for the haves to utilize in order to lock out the have nots. In order to highlight these absurdities, I chose to focus on the US/Mexico border, Israel’s Wall in Palestine and the Spanish Melilla in the north of Morocco.
Melilla, a Spanish enclave cut off from the north of Morocco by a militarized and deadly triple layer 10ft high structure. Migrants travel for 4,5,6 years to reach this side of the line only to be held in migrant detention centers, some for years, awaiting the legal to system to either award them papers or deport them. These of course are only the lucky ones who made it this far alive.
At the US/Mexico border, I spent one week each in El Paso, TX, Nogales, AZ and San Diego, Ca. Definitely not enough time to claim I caught anything more then a glimpse, but I did walk away with a portfolio of pictures of that line in the sand come manifest. And I knew needed to use these pictures in order to show those of us that aren’t forced up against the walls in this world exactly what is in our backyard; To expose the dirty little secrets of ourselves as a nation.
And of course, I needed to use all of these pictures together to highlight the globalized connections even if the structures were thousands of miles apart.
Money raised will allow me to build the exhibit itself which includes light boxes, traditional photographic imagery, 3-dimensional installation and performance art as a means to highlight the contextual feel of the borders. A physical border will be built and patrolled in the gallery in order to affect the movement of the participants creating a deeper context for the show itself and for the audience to be able to better relate to the reality represented.
Throughout the length of the show, I will also engage local organizations working at the intersections of social issues to hold workshops, presentations and other events in the space furthering local involvement and access to the show. This will continue the process of bringing artwork and our community work into the same fold. The show will also provide a powerful backdrop to these issues while supporting work of connecting the issues themselves.
The show is August 12, 2011. Mark your calendars!
Thanks for the support and spread the word.
- (38 days)