Narratives of migration and cultural amalgamation (or lack thereof) run rampant through this group exhibition at Denver Art Museum as it tackles ideas that may have descended into stereotype but still have slivers of truth. The site-specific installations bring up labour, nostalgia, memory, visibility and displacement, speaking of a community that has become a major part of the USA’s population but is still often viewed as ‘the other’.
From mixed media, performance-based video art, digital animation, fibre constructions, painting, sculpture and ceramics, the Rebecca Hart-curated exhibition inhabits a unique standpoint, embodying the duality of being both very much within, but also outside of, ‘American-ism’.
The US-Mexico border is not as polarising as many presume, with many spending their time between the two or immigrating from one side to the other. These largely US-based artists were prompted to consider the notion of ‘home’ and the ensuing artworks are complex in their layering of personal and political perspectives where identity issues, social justice and history come to the fore.
Jaime Carrejo’s 2017 work One-Way Mirror consists of two videos, one of the Mexican landscape shot from the border town El Paso, and another showing El Paso from the Mexican side of the border. The bisecting projections are displayed on tinted acrylic which complicates the scenes behind it, intending to evoke the sense of limited access but heightened desire to acquire it, much like the sensations crossing into the increasingly difficult ‘land of freedom’ entails. Other examples include Daisy Quezada’s porcelain casts of clothing worn by recent immigrants during or after border crossing accompanied by sound recordings of the experiences. Or, Gabriel Dawe’s 2016 Plux No. 36, where he has created an expansive gossamer prism that references gender stereotypes present in Mexico. There, males are not allowed to sew, but on display in the US, it lacks any of the effeminate stereotypes and therefore celebrates how a border crossing can also result in more liberal cultural values.
While this exhibition is timely in relation to Trump’s new America, these are stories from a culture-sharing population not always been welcomed with open arms with a long standing history.
Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place runs until 22 October at Denver Art Museum, Colorado, USA. For more information visit denverartmuseum.org