The US-Mexico border stretches for 3169 km. It’s the most frequently crossed international border in the world, with about half a million illegal entries every year. Due to extensive border patrols around its border cities, the flow of illegal immigrants is diverted into rural, mountainous and desert areas, leading to several hundred migrant deaths in the border area each year.
This exhibition explores the migrants’ journey across un-chartered territory between two politically-opposite landscapes. They face both psychological boundaries and survival in an inhospitable environment. The migrants are trapped economically at home, but also en-route. and in their circumstances when they reach their final destination. Wood questions the idea of the audience’s own identity if they switched to this environment themselves.
Central to the show is the barbed wire installation that Wood has placed in the middle of the gallery to symbolise the US border fence. Wood has plated the wire in 24 carat gold - referencing the economic dependency between the US and Mexico. Wood's gold border fence is littered with found objects and mementoes that migrants have left behind in the canyons and washes that build this landscape. The often cherished and essential possessions like ID cards and discarded clothing, represent their old life, whilst the water containers, rucksacks, shoes, playing cards and medication symbolise more transitional times.
Wood cast some of these objects in bronze, giving these lost and often discarded objects a renewed value. Through the objects’ form and historical content, they then become perhaps precious mementoes to others.
On the walls of the gallery, Wood shows her new ‘Deerskin paintings’. The hides of the Native American Whitetail deer that live along the borders of Mexico and USA were historically used by native Indians to paint daily events on, from ceremonies to life and death. Wood has used this method to topographically map the border area in gold ink onto a number of skins to document the migrant trails and migrant deaths of the last year (migrants historically die from dehydration whilst trying to walk the four-day crossing).
Elsewhere, Wood shows a series of photographs titled Mex 2. Mex 2 is considered an extremely dangerous stretch of road that runs directly along the US/Mexican border between Mexicali and Sonoita in Mexico - not just because of the landscape, but because of the battles that occur along it.
Drug running between Mexico and the USA and gun-running between USA and Mexico make Mex 2 a notorious stretch of road. Many fatal accidents occur across the mountain ranges it covers. As the wrecked cars deteriorate, they almost seem to become part of the boulder landscape, making it difficult to differentiate between the two. Trapped, perhaps hundreds of metres below the road, their passengers are left to perish as it’s impossible to reach or find them. They are totally trapped by the extreme conditions.
In a documentary film, Wood interviews several migrants in the border town of Nogales Mexico - just a handful of thousands of people making the journey each week. All were about to make the journey across the desert to the USA. The interviews question the migrants’ intentions, including where they are heading and what they want to find. Many attempt the journey without maps or compasses in 110 degrees F.
The film gives an insight into how the migrants just look forward despite the fears of what might happen along the way.
- - verberg extra tekst