Crossing Over, seeks to target the issue of boundaries within and beyond the issue of immigration. Boundaries and separation can be a way of self-preservation and protection, which can be a positive and necessary measure, but it can also become negative and increase ignorance and hatred between people. I realize that the problem of immigration that is rooted in the American culture and perhaps, is an issue that expands to the whole world. In fact, I am not sure that it is just about illegal immigrants; it is my experience that it is about “the other.” Legal or illegal, that who is different is scary and we have established all kinds of laws, personal strategies and walls to stay away from it.
With technology, we have more access to learning about what we do not know; we have the web, which gives us access to videos, newspapers, photos etc…
All of us have been discriminated against in some way or another, but how can we be aware of how much this hurts humanity? How can we try to get to know each other and make an attempt to change our behavior towards the unknown person, culture, and race?
Often, one finds one’s own ignorance when encountering “the other.” The walls of the two boxes of my installation function as mirrors of various immigration policies and scenarios. And will place the viewer in a position of the victim and the voyeur. The theater becomes a third box. These boxes are a metaphor for immigration as an encounter with ones own fears, insecurities, curiosities, setting up and relinquishing boundaries which are a threshold to cross over into a new unknown space. An element of the virtual and the real heighten the reality we live in now and how we experience life and others: the web, surveillance, cell phone cameras etc… Boundaries and borders, interpersonal and between countries in the world are sometimes necessary for protection, whether it is physical or psychological and these boundaries are to be honored and not transgressed.
By showing the actions happening inside the box through video projections, I explore these questions: how does media affect the information the viewer receives? Does the video camera become a microscope? Does it give the viewer distance from the real person inside the box or a glimpse of reality? What about what the viewer does not see does not get to see? What’s the meaning of the absent? What effects does TV ad video have on our knowing of one another?
Excerpt from The Dividing Fence by Wilfredo Rodriguez-Padilla, Immigrant Community Examiner
“Brownsville, Texas- Access to the golf course located in the University of Texas at Brownsville won’t be threatened by The Department of Homeland Security’s current project, a massive barrier running across the US-Mexico border. Instead of the proposed 18-foot steel fence, the university agreed to repair a 10-feet-tall existing fence north of the campus’ golf course. Cameras and sensors will also be installed by Border Patrol, in case any illegal immigrants disrupt a million-dollar swing”.
“The Great Wall of Mexico,” as some critics call it, will add 670 miles to the existing 74.8 miles of fence already in place, mostly in California and Texas. The proposed expansion came to life in 2006 when President Bush singed the Secure Fence Act. The project underwent numerous reviews and survived persistent criticism from the Mexican government, human rights groups, and environmental organizations. So far, the government has built 309 miles of fence”.