Beyond the Pale: Zac Hacmon at the Border Project Space

by Mariel Tepper

 

Artist Zac Hacmon uses form, space and sound in Beyond the Pale: an immersive and unflinching look at the U.S.-Mexico border crisis located at The Border Project Space. Curated by Eva Mayhabal Davis, this site-specific sculpture installation reflects on the material and conceptual barriers humans create and the devastating, far-reaching consequences of these obstructions.

Artist Zac Hacmon exploring the US/Mexico border (photo credit: Dana Levy)

The installation is centered around two abstract sculptures, Hedgehog 1 and 2. Their militaristic design inspired by Czech hedgehogs, barrier fortifications used for the Czech-German border in World War II. The imposing sculptures create a sense of tension and claustrophobia through hard-edged geometry, while the white ceramic tile surfaces of the sculptures evoke the sterility and asepsis of domestic and interior spaces; bathrooms, kitchens and hospital walls. The sounds of voices and ambient sounds can be heard from vents in the sculptures, creating a collective murmur that recedes and fluctuates in volume, enveloping the listener. With audio consisting of on-site interviews conducted by Hacmon at the Arizona border, the dialogues convey the hardships and human rights atrocities experienced by migrants, Native Americans, asylum seekers and undocumented workers through poems, stories and firsthand accounts. 

A devastating and visceral poem on the death of a newborn baby on the Arizona roadside, NO ANSWERS–NOW OR EVER by Marie Vogl Gery, is read by Gali Kocourek, a member of Tucson Samaritans. In another interview, Sarah M. Reed, Program Coordinator at Casa Alitas Program – Aid for Migrant Families, describes the trauma experienced by asylum seekers coming from Central America and southern Mexico to the U.S. to flee gang and drug related violence. If captured by border patrol, migrants face inhumane conditions in detention centers, where they are cramped in tight cells, deprived of sleep and adequate food, all their possessions forcibly taken. 

Interspersed with the interview snippets are the sounds of field recordings, rustles of footsteps on migrant trails in the Sonoran Desert during a water run. The crisp, caustic sounds remind the listener of the long, harrowing journeys migrants take, trudging through miles of unforgiving desert heat on rough ground, all in the hopes of achieving a better life. 

“Beyond the Pale” in situ at the Border Project Space (photo credit: Etienne Frossard)

Making the connection between borders and environmental devastation, Jose Rivera, Director of Tohono O’odham Culture Center and Museum, describes how the U.S. border wall physically disrupts local wildlife by preventing animals from moving freely between nesting and feeding areas. It’s clear that imposing arbitrary physical barriers on land disrupts not only the flow of people, but the flows and processes of the natural world. In an age of climate refugees and ecological collapse, the negative implications of border walls and the bigoted, non holistic ideologies (nationalism, xenophobia) fueling them are even more apparent. Zac Hacmon’s prescient and thought-provoking Beyond the Pale installation confronts the divisive and brutal reality of man-made borders. Shining a light on the cycle of pain, fear, violence and devastation that occurs when we deny the humanity of others.

America’s Diverse Social Tapestry Shines with “IN/FLUX” on view at Pelham Art Center

by Elizabeth Barenis

 

On view at Pelham Art Center through November 2nd, “IN/FLUX” – co-curated by PAC Director Charlotte Mouquin and Gallery Advisory Board Member Victoria Rolett – features works by compelling contemporary artists wielding their perspectives on immigration as expressed through various mediums. Ranging from photography to painting, installation art to collage, artists on view don’t shy away from aspects of immigration – positive and negative – that have shaped the scope of their respective artistic practices. Artists on view include Corina S. Alvarezdelugo, Selin Balci, Nicky Enright, Jenny Polak, Alejandra Hernandez, David Rios Ferreira, Omid Shekari, Ruben Natal San Miguel, Natalia Nakazawa and Victoria-Idongesit Udondian. The works exude a sense that the wider narrative diversity brings to the table creates a more intriguing contemporary art experience.

The Republic of Unknown Territory by Victoria-Idongesit Udondian for IN/FLUX

Visitors to this unique survey exhibition are greeted at the entrance by sounds of immigrants reflecting on their experiences as captured by Victoria-Idongesit Udondian for her installation, “The Republic of Unknown Territory.” Various articles of clothing are scattered throughout the space, suspended in hidden narratives that allude to both the absence and presence of their owners.

Engaged with the macro, rather than micro, elements of immigration, artist Natalia Nakazawa creates a map of woven threads manifesting the journeys that immigrants have taken to start new lives for themselves in their chosen homes. Denoting trade and travel along immigrant pathways, Nakazawa creates her works by incorporating participation into her process. Similarly engaged with fabrics and mixed materials, this work contrasts with Udondian’s installation in its bird’s-eye view of the effects which immigration exerts on an international scale.

Our Stories of Migration tapestry by Natalia Nakazawa for IN/FLUX

Ferreira’s pop-infused postcolonial drawings peel apart the layers of mythology and truth that comprise each immigrant’s personal history as well as society’s response to immigration. The colorful hues spanning intricate drawings in Ferreira’s works speak to an overarching, allegorical immigrant experience: a wider narrative that embraces aspects of varying sociopolitical relationships and international transportation.

Similarly engaged with maps, travel and transportation, Corina S. Alvarezdelugo’s collage works meld imagery unpacking the emotional weight of what lays near and far, subjects both intimate and remote.

David Rios Ferreira with his Drawings for the opening of IN/FLUX

 

Corina S. Alvarezdelugo’s Pangaea for IN/FLUX

On view at Pelham Art Center from September 20-November 2nd, “IN/FLUX” will host a variety of immigration-themed programming over the course of its time at the Center. These events include:

Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba celebration with BombaYo! – Sunday, Sept. 22nd 2-4pm
Diwali the Hindu festival of lights – Sunday, Oct. 6th 2-4pm
Mexican Day of the Dead – Sunday, Oct. 27th 2-4pm
There will be additional performance art during ArtsFest weekend Oct. 4-6th