Tracing the Unseen Border is an exhibition curated by Ian Cofre and Omar Lopez-Chahoud that takes a look at the dynamics surrounding the border between Mexico and the United States. Each of the participating artists critically engages questions about this imaginary line, some as a representation of the actual physical space that separates both countries, and yet is unseen by a large part of the nations’ populations. Others turn their focus to the social, political, and economic implications affecting those who are determined to cross it. Collectively, the artists begin to expose the broader context in which there has been a move to obscure the border. This tendency coincides with a political discourse and policies that have shifted to border security, immigration reform, and protectionism. The artists’ works will help reveal and unravel the interconnectedness of this contemporary landscape to those who may feel far removed.
Blane De St. Croix will present a new piece specific to the border between the US and Mexico from his series oflandscape sections – miniaturized representations of the borders and crossings between countries in varying degrees ofconflicts with their neighbors. These borders have unintentionally become world icons, placed into the public’s mind by themedia, though are often barren lands devoid of people except for the occasional border outpost, border crossing stations,or border towns. These sculptures take a slice or section from nature as a still or subliminal image of an environment inthe past, present, or still in transition of being destroyed or healed, and is symbolic of important global issues in the worldtoday. Teresa Margolles presents a site-specific wall installation of the names of victims killed within one month of borderviolence. It forms a keenly aware memorial elucidating the daily practice of publishing the names of the dead in localnewspapers. During the opening night of the exhibition, Irvin Morazan will debut a new headdress and performanceentitled Coyotes. As the title suggests, the work draws upon the multiple associations and meanings of the word in bothtraditional and contemporary cultural contexts. Coyotes are channeled by shamans in Central America as a vehicle totransport themselves spiritually into different realms, as they represent humble arrogance, surprise, and risk-taking.Today, “El Coyote” is the name for a person paid to smuggle illegal immigrants across the border between Mexico and theUnited States. Morazan’s new persona is based on the common traits shared by El Coyote/coyote, which includesinventiveness, mischievousness, and evasiveness. The performance will be a playful yet provocative ritual intending tobestow safe passages for those crossing physical or metaphysical lines. Richard Mosse’s project NADA QUEDECLARAR was made by looking for traces of the people crossing the border illegally. Spending his time scouring thedesert or the side of the road, hunting for the litter left by this invisible traffic, he searched for what they leave behind intheir race across the border. He also found a lot of other trash scattered about, complicating the difference between cluesthat trace real journeys and what is simply evocative litter. Rapidly transgressing into fiction, the search became moreabout the fantasy than the thing itself – about expectation, desire, and projection. What was initially a frustrating search fordocumentary proof became an exuberant treasure hunt for narrative cues and allegory.
SAVE THE DATE:
Tracing the Unseen Border: A Discussion
In conjunction with The New Museum’s Festival of Ideas for the New City
Date: Sunday, May 8, 2011
Time: 4 – 6 pm
Participating artists will join a panel moderated by Ian Cofre and Omar Lopez-Chahoud to discuss their work in the exhibition, Tracing the Unseen Border. They will address issues about the border experience that transcend its geographical location, influence the work they make as artists based in New York City, and go on to affect the City and its immigrant population.
The Festival of Ideas for the New City, May 4-8, 2011, is a major new collaborative initiative in New York involving scores of Downtown organizations working together to harness the power of the creative community to imagine the future city and explore ideas that will shape it. The Festival will include a three-day slate of symposia; an innovative StreetFest along the Bowery; and over eighty independent projects and public events. For more information, visit festivalofideasnyc.com
Organizational Support provided by The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York, Dos Equis Beer, and Casa Mezcal with Mezcal Los Amantes, sponsors
of the opening party.