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Over the course of five months, Elliot Ross and Genevieve Allison traveled the length of the US/Mexican Border. This is their story.
220 backers pledged $19,184 to help bring this project to life.

About

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When we traveled 10,000 miles to see for ourselves every inch of the U.S.-Mexico border it was the spring of 2017. The post-election climate had presented a stark new context for looking at cultural and political difference in the United States — and so many of these fragmenting narratives had found expression in the border wall debate. 

At the same time, very little seemed to be understood about the borderlands as a place, space, society or culture. We set out expecting to find residents there who were fundamentally vexed by the relationship between the United States and Mexico; between immigrant, indigenous, and Caucasian communities; and between border inhabitants and undocumented migrants. Instead, we found the opposite — and heard perspectives largely left unvoiced.

Mariscal Canyon, Big Bend National Park.
Mariscal Canyon, Big Bend National Park.
border fence constructed using old railroad rails east of Douglas, AZ
border fence constructed using old railroad rails east of Douglas, AZ

Through an amalgam of portraiture and topographical studies of border security infrastructure, American Backyard looks at the reality of life on the border. Various cultural and political processes, which may be ambiguous elsewhere in the country, are amplified here. In an environment where the movement of both people and goods are vigilantly regulated, examined, and controlled—and where federal laws regularly don’t apply—questions of social injustice and discrimination are matters of resounding consequence.

In many ways a crucible, the border issue brought into focus the processes and ideals that bind this country together, as well as those that divide it. Beyond talk of "The Wall," we found  a larger, less transparent story about our southern borderlands to do with acculturation, creolization, surveillance, inequality, diversity and compassion.

Early drafts of American Backyard have been featured in TIME Magazine and Vice. The full story will be told in a book complete with 120 photographs and 7 separate essays covering the length of the border, from the Gulf of Mexico to San Diego.

heavy multi-layer fencing east of San Ysidro, California opposite of Tijuana, Baja California.
heavy multi-layer fencing east of San Ysidro, California opposite of Tijuana, Baja California.

The book, which will be 144 pages in length, will be printed in Europe by Gnomic Book's network of skilled craftsmen, on materials chosen to evoke the subject matter of our militarized border. Renowned architect and cartographer Thomas Paturet will design the four maps that describe the path of the journey. 

Cartography by Thomas Paturet
Cartography by Thomas Paturet

About the Creators 

Elliot Ross is a Colorado based photographer. Born in Taipei, Taiwan (1990), his interest for the photographic medium, rural frontiers and underserved communities developed during his upbringing on a homestead in the Colorado high-plains. In NYC, he trained as an assistant under Annie Leibovitz and Mark Seliger for a number of years. Ross’s work is invested in the effects of isolation on communities and the divisive, emotional nature of geopolitical borders including ongoing work in the U.S. / Mexico borderlands. His work has been internationally shown and published, with notable appearances in National Geographic Magazine, Time, Vice and The Atlantic

CV

Genevieve Allison is a writer and artist whose work focuses on the intersection of issues concerning environment, land use, community, art, and politics. She has an MFA from The University of Auckland, New Zealand, and has exhibited internationally alongside artists such as Gerhard Richter and Katharina Grosse. In New York City, she worked in art book publishing at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and contributed to projects for Rizzoli and Paul Chan's imprint Badlands Unlimited. In addition to her work as art journalist and critic for Artforum and Aperture, her writing appears in notable publications such as Time, Vice and The Collective Quarterly. 

Risks and challenges

Any printing project carries some level of risk; however, this will be Gnomic Book's tenth project, having spent three years building relationships in the printing community. At this point the only risks that we encounter are ones of timing.

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    American Backyard: the book

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    Book + Print

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    Gnomic Book Summer 2019

    American Backyard, and Mike Osborne's Federal Triangle - a combined value of 118.

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    Two signed books

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    Gnomic Book Spring 2019

    Gnomic Book's 2019 collection: The Reflection in the Pool, Birthe Piontek's Abendlied, Jason Koxvold's Calle Tredici Martiri, and American Backyard.

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    Signed Book + Signed Print

    American Backyard, signed, and a 9"x12" archival inkjet print from the book of your choice, signed.

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    Pledge $338 or more About $338

    Gnomic Book: the full collection

    Receive a copy of every standard edition released by Gnomic Book: Knives, by Jason Koxvold; YAMOTFABAATA, by Shane Rocheleau; Half—Light, by Shahrzad Darafsheh; Vreugdevuur Scheveningen, by Romke Hoogwaerts; Abendlied, by Birthe Piontek; the Reflection in the Pool, by Shane Rocheleau; Calle Tredici Martiri, by Jason Koxvold; Federal Triangle, by Mike Osborne; and American Backyard, by Elliot Ross and Genevieve Allison.

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    Signed Book + Signed 30"x45" Print

    American Backyard, signed, and a colossal 30"x45" signed edition print (1 of 3) of your choice. The listed exhibition price for a print from this edition is set at $2500.

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    One of One American Backyard Box Set

    American Backyard, signed, and a one-of-a-kind complete set of 9"x12" photographs from American Backyard. That's 87 archival prints in total.

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    American Backyard: the book, signed

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Funding period

- (17 days)