Exhibition: Tierras Prometidas

February 23 /  May 4, 2019

Participating artists: Ai Weiwei / Fly the Flag · Francis Alÿs · Davis Birks · Forensic Oceanography and Forensic Architecture · José Hernández-Claire · Sean T. Hawkey · Fernando Llanos + Jessica Herreman + Leonardo Tarifeño + Ricardo Silva · Omar Pimienta · David Taylor

Curators: Ale Guillén, César R. Girón, Fernando Sanchez Aceves, y Pilar Perez

The Office for Cultural Projects presents “Promised Lands”, an exhibition that will examine issues of global migration, often forced, from from Syria to the recent refugee caravans from Central America through Mexico.

It is crucial that we as a society begin a dialogue and become aware about these experiences; there is more to than just what meets the eye. OPC would like to start that dialogue through this exhibition.

In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Oficina de Proyectos Culturales has organized Promised Lands, an exhibition about the global refugee crisis. Promised Lands will examine issues of global migration, often forced, from Syria to Cuba, to the recent refugee caravan from Central America through Mexico.

Mexico and the European Union faced similar situations as tens of thousands of Honduran refugees flooded the southern Mexican border in a march to seek political asylum in the United States. The motivations and challenges for these migrants are comparable to those in other parts of the world: war, violence, and extreme poverty push them on a dangerous journey that often ends in tragedy. It is crucial that we as a society begin a dialogue and become aware of these experiences; OPC would like to start that conversation through this exhibition.

As part of Promised Lands, OPC will be participating with Fly the Flag, an initiative to give human rights a symbol through a flag designed by the artist Ai Weiwei. In a far-reaching and unique collaboration, arts organizations and human rights groups will fly the flag to mark the 70th-anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights. (https://flytheflag.org.uk/)

The exhibition will also include a video installation titled Mare Clausum, a powerful and dramatic work by Forensic Oceanography and Forensic Architecture that documents the November 6, 2017 rescue by the NGO Sea Watch as it confronts a Libyan Coast Guard patrol vessel, both ships were simultaneously directed towards a migrant boat in distress in international waters.

The migrant caravan, as its come to be known, has made headlines across the world since October of 2018, when thousands of Central American refugees, including men, women and children, set off walking through Mexico in the hope of reaching the U.S. in an attempt to escape from the extreme violence, crime and poverty in their home countries. Photographers David Taylor and Sean T. Hawkey have been documenting the caravan as it traveled through Mexico and reached the U.S. border and both artists present commanding images of those seeking a promised land.

Artists Fernando Llanos and Jessica Herreman, edited a video with the audio testimonies of people who live on the border and were recorded in Tijuana by the famous Argentine journalist Leonardo Tarifeño for the realization of his book “No volvás” (Don’t come back). The video includes impeccable aerial shots of the border wall by Tijuana filmmaker Ricardo Silva (director of “Navajazo”).

Local artist Davis Birks has constructed an installation titled Dream Home which includes a floor plan of a house, useless keys on a single cot, and mirrored walls that reflect the sparse contents of the room; the viewer becomes a participant in a space which strives to create personal empathy with the escalating number of refugees and their plight.

Mobile Consulate by Tijuana based artist Omar Pimienta, is a participatory art action that challenges the notions of citizenships by inviting its participants to become free citizens of a conceptual colony. In order to do so, one must exchange a physical expired passport for another which grants the citizen free entry into “Colonia Libertad.”

In his series Migration, photographer José Hernández-Claire, documents the migratory experience in Mexico. His black and white photographs show a human perspective, the long journey that migrants from Central America go through to reach the unattainable American dream.

Also included is a 2006 video of a performance by Francis Alÿs. For Bridge/Puente the artist lined 150 boats from Key West, Florida in the direction of Havana, thus suggesting a floating, yet incomplete, bridge between the two shores in the midst of major conflict.