BRIC Rotunda Gallery is a brainy, politically-minded art space in the heart of downtown Brooklyn. Commencing BRIC's 2009-2010 season, Status Report is a knowledgeably curated show about Mexican immigration and borders—the first show of its caliber in New York City. The show includes meaningful conceptual and visual artwork based upon real life labor and border issues concerning immigrants and their movement in North America.
Erika Harrsch's installation draws you in with prints, a game wheel, and an official-looking desk with specially made “United States of North America” passports and forms to fill out. This borderless North American multi-media presentation is wrapped around the amazing journey which Monarch butterflies make each year, from Canada to Mexico and back again every year—a mission requiring four generations to accomplish. On opening night a few lucky art viewers won Harrsch's passports by pressing their luck at her spinning wheel. Upon investigating the work further, one finds details concerning some of the new changes with regard to VISA restrictions between Mexico, America and Canada.
I found the sewn works by Margarita Cabrera and Christina Fernandez sensory, compassionate and honest in their representation. Cabrera's soft sculptural pieces of backpacks and their contents, including medical aids, rosaries and wire cutters, are based upon items frequently confiscated by American border patrol. Fernandez photographs sweatshops in East LA. She also effectively shows machine sewn words of female garment workers which personalize the photographs.
The documentary works are equally heartfelt. Delilah Montoya's Humane Borders Water Station are large-scale photographs set in the Arizona-Sonora desert of activist-made stations for immigrants. Coco Fusco's Dolores from 10 to 10, recreates the account of Dolores Rodriguez, a maquiladora worker accused of unionizing her factory. Rodriguez was locked in a room and questioned for twelve hours and then forced to resign her job. Fusco powerfully re-creates the detention, which she films and sets upon three surveillance cameras.
Along with statistical artworks, this exhibition conveys political and social issues associated with Mexican immigration. Wednesday, September 9 at 7pm exhibition artist Coco Fusco will lead a discussion on moving image portrayals of border issues, focusing on her video; Vicky Funari and Sergio de la Toree's Maquilapolis, and Alex Rivera's Sleep Dealer.
(Images: Margarita Cabrera, Backpack (blue), 2006. Vinyl and thread. Courtesy of Sara Meltzer Gallery, New York; Coco Fusco, Dolores from 10 to 10, 2002. Film still from video installation. Courtesy of The Project, NY)