With the U.S./Mexico border being one of the most contentious political issues right now, an exhibition opening on February 18 at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, couldn’t be more timely.
“Border Cantos: Sight & Sound Explorations from the Mexican-American Border” features works by Richard Misrach, who has photographed the US/Mexico border since 2004, and related sound sculptures by Mexico City-born experimental composer Guillermo Galindo. Compared to the exhibition’s first two venues — the San Jose Museum of Art and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas, Crystal Bridges is a less obvious location for a show about the US/Mexico border. But the Ozarks town is the home of Walmart, a major importer of goods from our NAFTA partner Mexico, as well as China and other countries with cheap labor.
Misrach and Galindo see their project as a way to reintroduce a human element into the high-level discourse surrounding the border issue. Misrach is known for his four-decade-long project Desert Cantos and the Cancer Alley series about the industrial corridor along the Mississippi River. “Border Cantos” features his signature large-scale photographs, along with smaller photos taken with his smartphone. Galindo created sound-generating sculptures from items Misrach collected along the border, including personal belongings left by migrants, water bottles, Border Patrol “drag tires,” spent shotgun shells, ladders, and sections of the border wall itself.
“Border Cantos” is on view at Crystal Bridges February 18 through April 24.