Art at the Edge: Twelve Case Studies of Curatorial Practice on the U.S./Mexico Border

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This book investigates the artistic practices of contemporary artists who have responded to the current sociopolitical environment of the border between the U.S. and Mexico. The highlighted artists, most of whom embrace new media, include: 1. Alejandro Almanza Pereda (b. 1977, Mexico City; resides New York, NY) 2. Marcela Armas (b. 1976, Durango, Mexico; resides Mexico City) 3. Margarita Cabrera (b. 1973 Monterrey, MX; resides El Paso, TX and Houston, TX) 4. Tania Candiani (b. 1974, Mexico City; resides Tijuana and Mexico City) 5. Liz Cohen (b. 1973, Phoenix, AZ; resides Detroit, MI) 6. Adrian Esparza (b. 1970, El Paso, TX; resides El Paso, TX) 7. Enrique Jezik (b. 1961, Cordoba, Argentina; resides Mexico City) 8. Tom Leader Studio (Tom Leader, Sarah Cowles, Alan Smart) 9. Julio Cesar Morales (b. 1966, Tijuana, Mexico; resides San Francisco, CA) 10. Marcos Ramirez ERRE (b. 1961, Tijuana, Mexico; resides Tijuana, MX) 11. SIMPARCH (Steve Badgett b. 1962 Illinois; resides Chicago, IL . Matt Lynch b. 1969 Indiana; resides Cincinnati, OH) Some of these artists are Mexican living in Mexico. Some are Mexican living in the U.S. Others are Mexican American. And yet others are U.S. citizens of European ancestry. All of them have studied and/or resided in the border region. All were born in the 1960s and 1970s but are at varying stages of artistic development and recognition. The link between them is an shared interest in the current climate of the U.S./Mexico border and the conveyance of this territory in visual terms. Subjects include immigration struggles, low rider automobiles, Mexican street vendors, drug-related and domestic violence, water’s scarcity, managed agricultural lands, and the fluidity of cross-border cultural exchange in spite of the intimidation of physical walls. For example, Marcos Ramirez ERRE launched his career with the Toy-an-Horse, a architectural-scale wooden horse with two heads, one looking north and the other south, that he position at the San Ysidro border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana. The border is, in his words, his “zone of action.” In contrast, Tom Leader has created to date only one project about the border during the course of his career as a landscape architect. Divergent levels of investment in and commitment to the subject on the part of the artists creates a book that addresses a multitude of issues and concerns; it is a rich and interesting analysis of many aspects of contemporary art, in addition to probing the border situation. Performance, photography, sculpture, and video will be the focus. The author is a contemporary art curator who has interacted with all of these artists and exhibited artwork by most of them during her nearly 7-year tenure as the director of the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso, which is situated less than one mile from Juarez, MX. The discussion of each artist will include insights about the museum practice, installation opportunities and challenges, collaborative endeavors and educational outreach that apply to that specific artist’s endeavors. References to previously published accounts of the artists work and to applicable literary and art theory will also be included when appropriate.