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Posts: 70

For this post, I’d like you to select two works of art from the “When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art” OR from the “Crossing Lines, Construction Home: Displacement and Belonging in Contemporary Art” exhibition.You’ll notice that the works are made by artists who were born in many parts of the world. Try to identify at least two made by artists who originate in two different places.

I’d like to hear from you about the following: How do each of these works, in your view, reflect something powerful—on both the micro/personal and macro/societal level--about the plight of people migrating from one place to another?How do the two (or sometimes more) artists use their medium (painting, photography, assemblage, video, mixed media, installation, sculpture) to make an impact?And how do each of these works, in your view, elicit a reaction from the viewer (e.g.—you and anyone else in the museum)?

Please paste photographs of the two works you chose to address into your response.You should be able to upload anything you take on your cell phone to your computer and then onto the post.Make sure you identify what the image is (artist, title, date).

To review the logistical details on this assignment:

Shortly after we return from break, we will be talking about the plight of refugees coming to the United States for myriad reasons.You would have to have been living under a rock these past few years not to have heard about the feverish debate over “build the wall!”/ “we’re building the wall!” / “we’ve tunneled under that wall!”

Fleeing one’s “home” country is not an easy decision, as we’ve often discussed in class.But there are moments, as poet Warsaw Shire writes so eloquently (for his powerful poem titled “Home,” see, that home is “the mouth of a shark” and one simply has no choice but to leave.At other times, people flee for the frequently spoken of “a better life,” for education, for jobs, for security, for freedom.

It’s incredibly fortunate that we have not one, but two museum exhibitions in town that brilliantly address this topic.The ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) is currently hosting an extraordinary exhibition, “When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art” (closing January 26)—and it’s really extraordinary.It’s not huge but it’s super smart and thought-provoking and it’s a must see.I think you’ll find it enormously rewarding.In addition, the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University has an exhibition titled “Crossing Lines, Construction Home: Displacement and Belonging in Contemporary Art” (closing January 5) that also is exceptionally enlightening.

I would take all of you on a field trip but we’re out quite a bit this year (Schindler, DC, Eastern Europe) and I don’t want to push it with my BLS colleagues/administration.So here’s what I’m asking you to do between now and January 8th:

  • If you would like to see the exhibition at the ICA, go when it’s open and see the exhibition.The exhibition is on one half of the 4th floor of the museum. If you’ve never been the ICA, it’s in the Seaport District, not far from Fan Pier (where graduation is) and the Moakley Courthouse; its address, for all you GPS lovers, is 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston 02210.(Closest T stops are on the silver line.)You will NOT have to pay when you go, because the ICA is free for those 17 and under and you simply walk up to the desk and say you are 17 (or under) and they will give you an admission ticket.
  • The ICA is closed Mondays and on Christmas and New Year’s Day.Its hours are:
    • Tue + Wed: 10-5
    • Thu + Fri: 10-9 (except the first Friday of every month, when it is open 10-5)
    • Sat + Sun: 10-5
  • See the exhibition at the ICA.Make sure you watch a significant part of the videos in the exhibition as well as see the works of art.Make sure you don’t miss Anthony Romero’s installation that addresses issues related to East Boston (ask one of the security folks if you don’t find it easily).
  • If you would like to visit the exhibition at the Fogg, go when it’s open!The Fogg Art Museum is on the Harvard main campus at 32 Quincy Street in Cambridge.(Closest T stop is Harvard Square on the red line).The Fogg is free to everyone ages 18 and under and also to all students with an ID, so bring your ID.
  • The hours at the Fogg are:
    • Open every day from 10-5 (but closed at 1 pm on Christmas Eve, all day Christmas, closed at 3 pm on New Year’s Eve and all day New Year’s Day).
  • You may take photos in the exhibitions (without flash).If you photograph a work of art, my suggestion is that you also photograph the text label with it so that you can reference who the artist(s) is.
  • And then after you see one of the two exhibitions, you are going to post about it (see the prompt ON THE OTHER OPPOSITE SIDE OF THIS SHEET).I’d ask you to paste a photo of something you saw in the exhibition and comment on it within the post.
Posts: 16

The Difficulty of Migration

Rineke Dijkstra Almerisa 1994-present

Rineke Dijkstra, the artist, was ordered to take pictures of the children of those seeking asylum in the Netherlands. Although the reason for taking the pictures was dark and heartbreaking, Almerisa, a Bosnian refugee, saw it as a way to express herself with the help of Dijkstra. Every few years they would meet to take a new portrait and in all of them Almerisa is in her home, sitting in a chair, with her best attire. No matter what city or house she lived in this was always the set up. There were 15 portraits all ranging from youth to adolescence and something I found interesting was how her posture and attire changed throughout. In the first two pictures it reflects the pressure to look and act her very best as a refugee in a foreign place (Netherlands). The third picture in my opinion signifies Almerias change in meaning of “best clothes.” Her parents probably dressed her when she was young but when she grew older she explored her own sense of style through her teenage life, the beginning of adulthood, through pregnancy, and after that until present day. Her posture also stuck out to me because in the first two she was sitting up very straight and had perfect posture, but it seems as though as she grew up, she grew more comfortable with herself and her surroundings and her posture expresses that. I think that migrating to another place is like starting from the very beginning and you have to find yourself again, but also you have to “prove” that you are worthy of being there. Almerisa, although in a foreign place, with time realized things about her and because of those realizations she gained comfortability and a sense of belonging. Society will always try to shape you into the norm or what they see is fit but no one really will ever know you or can ever change you but you. The reactions from the painting for me at least was that getting to know yourself and how you want to express yourself takes time but it will be worth it in the end because you’ll gain a better understanding of yourself and your life.

Camilo Ontiveros Temporary Storage: The Belongings of Juan Manuel Montes 2017

Juan Manual Montes was the first deferred action for childhood arrivals recipient (DACA) to be deported from the U.S under Donald Trump. The picture captures many things that Juan had to leave behind when he was deported to Mexico. The image by Ontiveros, who emigrated from Mexico, captures many items but the ones that stuck out to me were the bed, mirror, ties, and the ropes holding everything together. I think for the bed symbolizes comfortability and something that you sleep on every night and for Juan that was taken away from him, which probably led him to feeling uncomfortable and unfamiliar with his new life in Mexico. I think the mirror represents how his view of himself that he had in the U.S will be left behind and he will be forced to figure out who he is in a new environment. The ties represent all his success and achievements that he has to leave behind as he starts new and the ropes represent how he had his life figured out or it was familiar to him but that familiarity was taken away from him due to Trump deporting him. This represents many people who are forced to migrate lives because they have to drop everything, not by choice, and are forced to live life somewhere unfamiliar to their old normal, with new people and cultures which also means finding themselves again which difficult. My reaction to this was that it really shows how difficult and even scary it is to be forced to drop everything that you are used to and be sent some place else.

Regina Phalange
Posts: 19

Migration in many forms

I visited the Fogg Museum to see the exhibit, “Crossing Lines, Construction Home: Displacement and Belonging in Contemporary Art.”

One of the pieces that stuck out to me the most were this row of photographs from the artist, Dylan Vitone's, collection entitled South Boston.

Dylan Vitone, moebar mahoney, mike, friday night, doorway, chris and kuka, dog walk (2001)

This piece stuck out to me because, after seeing many pieces about refugee crises and migrants in places like Turkey, Iran and Germany, it was a reminder that migrants and refugees are everywhere, including (and especially) in Boston. The photograph are in black and white and depict stone-faced images of the South Boston Irish-Catholics, who were mainly refugees of the potato famine and, later, the Troubles. The people depicted in each photo are what we might refer to as “normal people.” There is nothing special about them and without reading the description it would not be apparent that this piece is one about migration. The simplicity of these images shows that the subjects are more than just migrants: they are a product of the community built by such migration. While the people in the pictures are emotionless and physically unremarkable, the backgrounds of the photos are filled with storefronts and businesses. You cannot gain insight into each person’s history just by looking at them, but you can draw conclusions about their present situation. In today’s context, this would be a complete juxtaposition to the narrative surrounding refugees in America. Currently, labels are everything, and with all kinds of hate speech and targeting towards immigrants and refugees, this piece serves as a reminder that migrants are people first and one’s humanity transcends any labels or explanations.

Another piece that I thought was really interesting was Lili Almog'sMuslim Girl #14 (2009).

In this photograph, the first thing that I noticed is that the woman seems to juxtapose the background. Upon reading the description, you learn that this picture is meant to represent the apparent displacement of muslim people in China, especially women. According the the artist, people like the woman in the photograph are typically unseen both within their own country and throughout global depictions and discourse surrounding the country. Nevertheless, Almog counters this by making the woman’s colorful clothing stand out against the traditional background. Additionally, Algor doesn’t include any sort of background information about the woman, so the viewer is left to infer what her story is. For me, this made me wonder if she is so extraordinary that Almog felt compelled to take a photograph of her or if she was so normal and ordinary that Almog wanted to photograph her to represent a greater group of people or a bigger idea. Overall, this made me want to learn more about the woman and caused me to think about the unseen people in our society.

Posts: 21

a sea of emotions

(Camilo Ontiveros, Temporary Storage: The Belongings of Juan Manuel Montes, 2017)

This work is an extremely personal portrayal of the struggles that migrants go through. These are the only belongings that Juan Manuel Montes left behind after he was deported by the Trump administration. He was one of the first DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients to be sent out of the country after Trump became president.

The sculpture seems to be towering over the visitor as they view it. It is a bit shocking to see it at first since it looks so heavy, yet is only held up by two metal posts. Observing the sculpture is difficult as it is so big, but once you walk around it, you realize it consists of a bed, a few pillows, clothes, and other miscellaneous objects, which are quite personal items. It is held together by many ropes that perhaps represent the trouble the displaced person will have to go through to get back to their belongings. Having the ropes tightly bound around the belongings is similar to bottling a person’s emotions. Nothing can escape and nothing will be displaced, but on the other hand, nothing can be let go. Camilo Ontiveros said he was interested in migration as a “lived experience”. This work reflects these words as it displays objects that many of us take for granted as bound up and out of reach. A person was forced to leave behind their life and community because they ‘did not belong here’. They did not willingly leave their home. They cannot forget their experience and deportation. Montes managed to come to the United States for a new life, but he was denied that opportunity by the government.

(Kader Attia, La Mer Morte (The Dead Sea), 2015)

This piece reflects the reality of migration, specifically in the Mediterranean. The shirts represent both the treacherous ocean that migrants and refugees have to cross, and also the people who do not make the journey. Upon first glance the clothes seem to be scattered around randomly, but upon closer look, it is evident that they are placed so that they look like the surf on a shoreline. Using clothes to represent bodies and lost people is very effective because they are items that are associated with people no matter what. This work is a cry for Europeans to recognize the hardships migrants go through as they are trying to reach their destination. Instead of acknowledging this fact, many Europeans are hostile towards immigrants and discriminate against them. The tide will go in and out and so will people’s opinions of migrants. One thing that will not change though, is the shared struggle of trying to find somewhere where you belong and are safe.

Posts: 19

Immigrant Art Depiction

I visited the Institute of Contemporary Art and chose two works of art from the “When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art” exhibit. The first was an oil painting called “Las Talaveritas” made in 2015 by Aliza Nisenbaum who was born in Mexico City and now lives in New York City. My second piece of art was called “Temporary Storage: The Belongings of Juan Manuel Montes” which is an abstract art made in 2017 by Camilo Ontiveros who is from Mexico and currently lives in Los Angeles.

In Las Talaveritas, it is an oil painting that depicts an immigrant family living in the United States. When I first looked at this painting I assumed that they didn’t have many belongings. They’re all sitting on the same couch, there’s no tv or computers or books, etc. So I assume that this family immigrated without many possessions. They found probably a small place to live and they're making the best of it. Then I started to think maybe that’s not bad at all. The more I looked I could see that the family was close, they were touching each other and looked close. So while they may not have many items they at least had each other. You can see that they aren’t happy as they seem to have frowns on their face. The more I thought about them I wondered why they were sad. I was thinking, they got to the United States safely, they have a place to live and they are together. But then I realized that they probably had to leave many family members back in Mexico. They had to leave everything they had there and everything they knew there. They had to move to a new country where they don’t speak the language, they don’t know the cultures and worse they aren’t accepted by a percentage of the country they are now living here. So while I could see the benefit of them being together and being safe, I could also see the heartbreak of leaving family behind and having to adjust to a whole new way of life in a community that doesn’t necessarily accept them. Also, to make it about myself, my younger sister and I were raised by a single mom and our painting would look similar to this one. I thought for a minute how I would feel if we had to go to a different country where we didn’t know anyone or anything.

In Temporary Storage piece it is a depiction of the possessions Juan had left after he was deported and sent back to Mexico. Juan is the first DACA immigrant that was deported under the Trump administration. When I saw this piece of art I immediately felt sad. I felt sad that these were the few things that Juan had to his name. It wasn’t much, a mattress and bed frame, a chair, some clothes, boxing gloves etc. It’s sad to think after living in the United States these were the few items that he had attained. I then also felt bad about my own privilege, in realizing how much stuff I have. That if I had to up and leave and my items were depicted as art what would it say about me? I realized I wouldn’t like the assumptions made about my items. Then in me making this about me, also made me feel bad. Because you have Juan who was taken from the US where he was living, where he was legally allowed to live and work and sent back to Mexico with nothing and I was thinking of myself. I think on a micro level when seeing the art you can understand the struggle of Juan and how hard it must have been for him to deported back to a country he barely knew anymore with nothing to his name and having to once again start over with nothing. On a macro or larger level I think the artist does a great job in getting the viewer to think about themselves and reflect on what their story would say if their belongings became art.

Posts: 17

everything will be taken away



I saw the exhibit at the ICA, and the two pieces I chose to write about are Camilo Ontivero’s “Temporary Storage: The Belongings of Juan Manuel Montes” (2017) 2 and Kader Attia’s “La Mer Morte” (2015) 1.

The first piece is a structure containing personal belongings of Juan Manuel Montes, a DACA recipient deported under Trump’s administration. I found this extremely impactful as it featured completely mundane items, such as a suit coat and ties, which could be owned by any one of us. It is a stark reminder for immigrants of the daunting possibility of being deported or forced out of their home. It is also heartbreaking to imagine that Montes had to leave so quickly that he was not able to bring his own belongings with him. It evokes a sense of loss, confusion and loneliness; boxing gloves that will never be worn again, a mirror in which Montes will likely never see himself in again. Another piece I connected to this was a mirror toward the end of the exhibit that had “everything will be taken away” written on it. It is terrifying to think that our lives as we know it could be upended and changed at any moment, and for millions around the world, it already has been. The injustice of Montes’ deportation is captured perfectly by the arrangement of the things he was forced to leave behind.

The second piece took up a sizeable portion of the floor of one room. It was blue clothing, mostly children’s clothing, arranged in a manner so it looked like the ocean However, it also evoked the images of dead migrants found washed up on the shores of the countries they were trying to reach for a better life. It was honestly hard to look at as it reminded me about the dangers migrants face and the high possibility of dying en route to a new country, and how lucky I am that I have never had to go through such a traumatic event. These people die with no real home; their own home pushed them away, and their destination does not want them either. It is a tragic circumstance that migrants across the world find themselves in. The arrangement of the clothing was very effective in getting across this message as it takes up most of the room, forcing the visitor to at least acknowledge and think about the piece.

Posts: 29

Forgotten Plights

Bill McDowell

Roxham Road Journal, 2017

  • This image depicts a torn up journal of an asylum seeker. He was trying to leave Nigeria as an LGBTQ individual, where members of the LGBTQ community are not granted equal rights. People migrating Roxham Road, are not necessarily trying to end up in the US, and don’t have a destination in mind. All this man knows is that he has to leave home. The letter is all torn up, which I though symbolized the “forgotten” community in Nigeria. Since LGBTQ are not given equal rights in Nigeria, they become “forgotten”, much like this letter. Without equal rights, they cannot vote and don’t have much say in state affairs, thus “forgotten” in terms of the government.

Clarissa Tossin

Spent, 2009

  • This displays toiletries dipped in porcelain tossed around aimlessly. I viewed this as mirroring Chinese Internment, because the Chinese were thrown around aimlessly- no concern for morality or safety. Another way I viewed this was at a glance, I was ready to walk right past it, but then I saw the subtext, which to me made it “mean something”. An issue about the government is historically, when addressing immigrants they provide no “subtext”, which can make people “forget” or “not care” because similarly it doesn’t “mean something”. Governments can make immigrants seem “forgotten” members of society rather than integrated members of society.
Posts: 19

Understanding the Immigrant Experience

Camilo Ontiveros, Temporary Storage: The Belongings of Juan Manuel Montes, 2017

I attended the exhibit at the ICA, “When Home Won’t Let You Stay.” One piece of art that really stuck out to me was created by Camilo Ontiveros called Temporary Storage: The Belongings of Juan Manuel Montes. Ontiveros had constructed a large sculpture of “stuff” belonging to Juan Manuel, who is believed to be the first DACA recipient to be removed from the U.S. under Trump. On a larger scale, this sculpture is representing the lives that these immigrants are forced to leave behind. It’s illustrating immigrants as individual human beings instead of a stereotyped “they.” I think it’s helping those viewing the art piece to sympathize with those who are forced to leave. The idea behind it is that if someone sees Montes’ belongings they are more likely to understand how hard it might be because he owns things that many of us possess. His name only evokes so much sympathy from a viewer. By seeing his belongings we’re seeing a little bit into their lives, understanding who he is as a person, which is what makes it more painful when trying to understand what it might be like to be an undocumented immigrant. It poses the question, “What if this was me?” I think we generalize undocumented immigrants as one big group often, which seems to make any listener or viewer feel unattached from the situation. However, by trying to show Manuel’s personality and interests through his belongings, Ontiveros is allowing his audience connect to Manuel on a personal level by demonstrating that he is similar to many American citizens even though he is an immigrant.

Xaviera Simmons’ Found the Sea Like a River, 2018

The second painting that I was really interested in was Xaviera Simmons’ Found the Sea Like a River. Simmons painted a small excerpt of Columbus’s diary that is interpreted in her own words. She is highlighting the fact that he mentions more about the scenery and beautiful landscapes than the atrocities committed on the native peoples he encountered. He is portraying a false image of his journey to make him appear as the good guy. I thought it might connect to some viewers on a personal level in the sense that they feel their situation is ignored or at the very least, put in a better light than it should be. On a larger scale, I think people can see how this relates to a lot of our history, even today with undocumented immigrants in the U.S. I didn’t truly understand Simmons’ purpose in creating this piece until after I read the description and that’s why it stuck out to me so much. I think it’s really interesting how she is putting on display something regarding immigrants and their mistreatment from so long ago, yet she’s making it clear that this situation is still very relevant today. She’s making the point that from the very beginning of America, we have ignored the sufferings that many minorities face. Also from the description, I thought it was interesting how they described Simmons as putting something very personal (Columbus’s diary) on a public display. Again, I think most viewers would need to read the description to understand this, but once they do, many might see how significant it is. It’s like Columbus is lying to himself and that he believes what he is doing is truly right, therefore he doesn’t need to talk about it.

Posts: 23

Here for Keeps

Guillermo Galindo, Exterminating Angel, 2015

This is a sound sculpture. It was built to resonate. Being built from pieces of the U.S.-Mexico boarder barrier, there is no way it couldn't. Here are these materials that were made to Keep people out, and they have been changed to represent the "migration of sound". All of these materials in their original state would surely instill some fear, most especially the drag chain in my opinion, and the piece does still look foreboding as it is. However, its purpose and it appearance create an interesting juxtaposition, because now these fearful this are a gong, an instrument that can produce a calming sound. I think this represents a duality in the migratory process. While one my feel fear and unease in the beginning, there is always a sense of assurance and anticipation. Another thing that's striking about this is that these pieces of the wall were not meant for us as citizens to see. We are not meant to worry about the struggles of the people fleeing to our country. We are not meant to know that we are keeping them out. We are not meant to know they are here. Galindo wanted this to honor the presence of migrants, and by reminding the people of the barriers those migrants must overcome, he does juts that.

Hayv Kahraman, Bab el Sheikh, 2013

This one is my favorite out of the whole exhibit. Before even reading the description, the mixing of cultures with the influences of both traditional Japanese art and the renaissance figures really stood out to me. Kahraman created this piece to express the disconnect she felt to the country of her origin. The woman, or collective "she" seem simultaneously out of place and a part of the floor plan of this traditional Baghdadi home. This very accurately portrays the dichotomy experienced by refugees, especially the children, who end up spending most of their lives away from their birthplace. The bodies of being painted as sort of shadows across the floor seem to represent the vestiges of memories of a place that was for Kahraman, sort of a memory she can't reach. She was interested in representing the multitude, the millions upon millions of people ever displaced from their homes. The experience must be extremely alienating when you don't belong form the place you left behind, nor to the place you are going.

Posts: 15

The Reality.

I visited the exhibit “When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art” at the ICA.

La Mer Morte is a piece by Kader Attia that is completely eye opening. At first glance, this could look like the floor of a teenage boys bedroom but the reality is these are the clothes of 3,753 refugees who died at sea. The purposeful placement of each clothing item and the color scheme metaphorically demonstrates the sadness and the quietness of the death. The exhibit reminds me of the philosophical phrase “a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” because these pieces of evidence are the “sounds” that we the people need to hear to know that these refugees existed and have now passed away. No media coverage has caused us to turn a blind eye to numerous lives that have been lost to those who are only seeking a better life. I believe that Attia does a phenomenal job of using a simple yet striking piece to truly touch the spectator.

The Crossing by Carlos Motta is a series of eleven videos (five of which are featured at the exhibit) that are interviews of LGBTQI+ refugees and their experiences escaping their oppressive homes. I watched Anwar’s video and I was truly heartbroken for him. He described the beatings he took and the illegal treatment he endured and I particularly remember how he reacted very sadly as he described his mother being beaten when she tried to visit him in prison. Sometimes, I forget that the queer community isn’t accepted in all parts of the world and that people in 2019-2020 are still homophobic and that there are refugees who are fleeing their home country because they are being prosecuted for who they are and who they love. The world isn’t ready to accept the LGBTQI+ community and I am truly privileged to live in a country where there are safe spaces for queer people and that fleeing is not mandatory to live. Not only do we have to protect the queer community but we have to acknowledge that colored queer people are in danger in their native countries. The levels of oppression are based around color, sexuality, gender, etc. and so it is our duty with whatever privilege we may have, to protect and provide asylum for those who need it.

clown emoji
Posts: 31


These works represent two very opposing forces to me. The first one (Do Ho Suh, Hub-1, Entrance,260-7,Sungbook-Dong,Sungboo-Ku, Seoul, Korea 2018), on a personal level, almost represent a new world to me. Being inside of the pink structure brought to mind the phrase “looking at the world through rose colored glasses”. When I was inside of them it almost felt like I was in another dimension, somehow looking into the bustling room around me. It was strangely peaceful. Although those are how the exhibit made me feel, I think that the reflection on migration are definitely different. This sculpture was designed to show different phases of life and the physical moving into different environments. For the artist, this sculpture reflected her migration from South Korea to America ad how the two were different yet still equally as important to her. On a more societal level I think that it reflects the internal struggle many migrants often are faced with; their identity crisis of being torn between the place they came from versus the place in which they currently live.

The second piece of art (Camilo Ontiveros, Temporary Storage: The Belongings of Juan Manuel Montes, 2017)made me feel sad for some reason. It looked lonely, abandoned, forgotten, yet compact and strategic. On a personal level, it almost made me think of the belongings you’d have to bring in an emergency, or little bits of someones life. This sculpture was next to a movie about refugees, so I’m assuming they were tied together. It made me feel the opposite of how I felt when I looked at the first sculpture; I felt melancholic and lonely. The structure of the sculpture itself is very chaotic, which makes me tie it to the rush and adrenaline and chaos I would associate with refugees who have to flee for their livelihood.

The two artists use their mediums to make an impact in different yet equally effective ways. For the first installation, you physically walk through the two polyester rooms. I think this immersive experience is extremely effective in evoking emotion. This is especially true when you are inside of the installation and notice how the light casts differently due to the colorful and sheer polyester walls. Emotion always has an impact, so I think that by this artist making her sculpture immersive, it had a stronger impact on the visitor themselves. The second installation’s shape and construction was simply absurd and puzzling at first glance. Yet, when you look closer at all of the individual pieces that comprise the entire structure you begin realizing how complex it actually is. The impact of this draws the visitor in and leaves them questioning and curious.

Posts: 25

Snapshot of Suffering

Posts: 22

Facing Immigration

Guillermo Galindo

Angel Exterminador/ Exterminating Angel


This piece is a sculpture that utilizes pieces of the wall along the US-Mexico Border to create striking images. Seeing this piece I think really drives home the reality of immigration in our country for those of us who are seemingly far away from everything that is happening, even in our own backyard. In Boston, it is easy to feel removed from much of what is happening on our Southern border. This piece I think served as a powerful reminder about what is happening at our borders, and the lengths that our government is willing to go in order to restrict the inflow of migrants and refugees into our country. This particular piece was part of a series of other sculptures and artwork from the same artist, all having to do with the border wall, and together they made a very stunning tribute to the sacrifices and hardships of migrants coming to the US from South and Central America.

Yinka Shonibare CBE

The American Library


This piece of art was definitely one of my favorites from the exhibit. It took over an entire room, with bookshelves floor to ceiling around every wall. The spines of the books were embossed with the names of prominent Americans who were immigrants or the children of immigrants, or those who made a significant impact on American society. The books were all wrapped in Ditch wax paper, and printed with African patterns. It really showed the cross-cultural exchanges that have made up the fabric of the United States, and when looking at it, you could walk around and get close, looking at all the different facets of the piece. Then, in the middle of the room were iPads, and the visitors were encouraged to write out their own family histories, in regards to immigration. I really liked the interactive portion, and I think that it allowed the visitors to connect deeply with the piece, and think about how immigration and cultural exchange have played roles in their lives.

Posts: 17

"We are human beings, risking our lives for our families & our future"

I selected two works of art from the “When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art” exhibition. The first was a sculpture titled Temporary Storage: The Belongings of Juan Manuel Montes created by Camilo Ontiveros. She was originally born in Mexico but immigrated to California. The second was a collection of blue articles of clothing strewn across the floor, titled La Mer Morte (The Dead Sea). It was created by Kader Attia, who is originally from Dugny, France.

I chose these two pieces of art together because they were both so powerful in their simplicity. By using the left behind possessions of Juan Manual Montes, the first DACA recipient who was deported under President Trump, the artist shows the left behind life that many immigrants face with deportation.The artwork felt extremely personal and almost as if I could see exactly what his hobbies and home life was like. It added a level of humanity which I think is constantly overlooked when speaking about immigrants. People are so quick to assume that simply because someone came from another country means that they are illegal or should go back. The aspect of the sculpture and actually seeing his possessions, instead of just a photo, really made me feel like he could have been my friend, neighbor, or classmate.

Attia’s use of clothing strewn across the room in random poses created an ominous, depressing feeling. The clothes were meant to represent the 3,753 immigrants missing and believed to have died at sea, which only added to the dark feeling of the room. Similar to the Ontiveros sculpture, the assemblage of clothes made the piece feel so personal even though it was literally just laid out clothes on the ground. It's the thought of you could have filled those articles of clothing that is truly ominous. There are so many untold stories and unknown hardships that can be seen in those clothes.

I think these pieces really made the viewer think further than what they simply saw in front of them. If I had just seen a bunch of stuff tied together with rope or a bunch of clothes on the floor then I would have missed the entire point. By reading the artist's intention on their plaque and by really thinking about the struggle an immigrant must endure simply to come to another country, you see the humanity in both of these peices.You can literally picture people filling the piles of clothes and Juan Manuel Montes lying on his bed, looking in his mirror, or trying on his boxing gloves.

Posts: 17

Originally posted by dummkopf on January 07, 2020 20:07

Observing the sculpture is difficult as it is so big, but once you walk around it, you realize it consists of a bed, a few pillows, clothes, and other miscellaneous objects, which are quite personal items. It is held together by many ropes that perhaps represent the trouble the displaced person will have to go through to get back to their belongings. Having the ropes tightly bound around the belongings is similar to bottling a person’s emotions.

I thought it was incredible how the artist showcased these items in a way that told a story about Juan's personal life.

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