Working the Line
James Kelly Contemporary is pleased to announce Working the Line
an exhibition of photographs by David Taylor. This will be his
first solo show with the gallery.
In, 2006 Taylor started the lofty project of finding and
documenting the 276 obelisks that mark the border between Mexico
and the United States from El Paso/Juarez west to San
Diego/Tijuana. The Obelisks were installed between 1891-1895,
and were first documented in the mid 1890s by D.R. Payne for the
International Boundary Commission. They stand today as when they
were installed with a plaque in English facing north and a
corresponding one in Spanish facing south notifying all travelers
of the location of the boundary.
There are two types of monuments that delineate the border,
earlier masonry examples and the more recent cast iron versions.
They were installed at varying distances depending on the terrain
with the intent that they would be visible by line of sight from
the vantage point of a person on horseback. The context in which
they can be found ranges from populated urban areas to desert and
rugged mountains. The monuments stand as a testament to a past
generation of border etiquette, whereas today border fence and
vehicle barriers cut a path across territory that was once only
marked by the solitary obelisks.
Taylor’s effort to find and document the monuments has lead to a
larger body of work “examining the change occurring along the
border at a pivotal moment.” Taylor has been granted
unprecedented access to the US Border Patrol and produced a
corresponding body of work that depicts daily life along the
border with images of the border agents and smugglers as well as
contraband and the ongoing fence construction. In 2008 he was
awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for the project. With only a
handful of monuments left to photograph Taylor intends to
complete his work this fall.
The exhibition will feature images of both the border monuments
and the daily events Taylor witnessed over the several years he
has thus far devoted to this project.
Taylor received his BFA from Tufts University and a MFA from the
University of Oregon. His work has been exhibited widely and is
in the permanent collection of many public institutions
including, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The El Paso Museum
of Art, Texas; University of Washington Special Collections,
Seattle; New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe; and the Nora Eccles
Harrison Museum, Utah State University, Logan, UT.
A 2010 monograph published by Radius Books about the project will
be available for purchase at the gallery or by contacting
The artist will be in attendance for the opening at James Kelly
Contemporary, on September 2nd from 5-7 pm.