Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94) is a participatory art exhibition created by the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP) and directed by UCLA anthropologist Jason De León. Occurring in more than 130 cities around the globe, the installation intends to raise awareness about the realities of the U.S.-Mexico border, focusing on the deaths that have occurred almost daily since 1994 as a direct result of the Border Patrol policy known as “Prevention Through Deterrence” (PTD). HT94 is realized with the help of local volunteers, who record names (when known), age, sex, cause of death, condition of body, and location of recovery on toe tags for each person. These tags are then pinned on the map in the exact location where those remains were found. The physical act of writing out the names and information for the dead invites participants to reflect, witness, and stand in solidarity with those who have lost their lives and their surviving communities. This form of public memorialization and mourning also opens opportunities to engage with active conversations related to ongoing migrant rights issues. HT94 renders the human consequences of PTD policies, while also promoting both global and local discourse on migrant labor, detention, and other intersecting topics through collaborative programs with community partners.
Sharing the Henry’s Lobby with HT94 are screen prints from the Free Them All installation. In Fall 2020, the Henry presented screen-printed reproductions of four portraits from La Resistencia’s #FreeThemAll campaign in the museum’s front windows and along the adjacent exterior wall. #FreeThemAll shares visual and narrative portraits of people presently or formerly detained within the Northwest Detention Center to call attention to the human rights issues at the center of migration, detention, and deportation policies. La Resistencia chose Rene, Ruben, Tien, and Yohanne for the Henry’s presentation in order to highlight the urgency of their cases. In situating the portraits from Free Them All alongside HT94, we invite conversation about how federal migration policy affects the ongoing lives of our neighbors living and working in King and Pierce Counties and beyond.
The presentation of HT94 and Free Them All at the Henry is part of Art at the Borders of the Political, a multi-pronged University of Washington (UW) faculty project organized by UW Professors Tony Lucero, María Elena García, and Katie Bunn-Marcuse in collaboration with other colleagues across campus, and funded by the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities. Art at the Borders of the Political highlights how visual artists across the Americas reveal the limitations of official state-authorized “truth and reconciliation” projects and the importance of including everyday people in the work of memory and protest. Through a series of film screenings, public talks and exhibitions, micro-seminars, and participatory pop-up installations, this project showcases the power of art and sensory scholarship to move beyond the tropes of victimhood or heroic resistance and reveal democratic energies.
Exhibition Dates: September 2020 - October 2021
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