CrossBorder Photography: Images of the US and Mexico from the Permanent Collection
The US-Mexico border is often pictured as a physical site, bounded by fences and walls, made and reinforced by enormous systems of power. CrossBorder Photography: Images of the US and Mexico from the Permanent Collection takes a different approach, exploring how the border—symbolic, cultural, and personal—has been contained, framed, and represented through the medium of photography from the 1940s to the present. This exhibition brings together artworks that interrogate and make visual the processes of bordering, including the state practices of militarization, surveillance, and deportation that reinforce the physical barrier. But it also reveals how artists’ own border crossings have inspired the creation of images, shedding light on how racial and class formations, cultural dialogues, and social justice causes determine who represents and who is represented.
Drawn from the permanent collection of the Benton Museum of Art, the exhibition showcases the work of US-American photographers Gordon C. Abbott, Christina Fernandez, Nathan Lerner, Danny Lyon, Don Normark, and Richard Ross. Some images feature ports of entry and detention centers that construct the border as an international boundary defined by immigration; others draw attention to personal lived histories, featuring photographs of campesinos as well as immigrant communities in Los Angeles neighborhoods. Spanning almost a century, all of the photographs destabilize notions of photographic truth and objectivity as well as uncover the subjectivity of the artist behind the lens. They reflect a range of technologies, techniques, and styles used by artists to create cross-border narratives and portray immigrant experiences.
Grace Sartin (’21), Madeleine Mount-Cors (’22), and Maelvi Nuñez (’22) with the mentorship of Dr. Rosalía Romero, Chau Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Art History.
The exhibition was developed with the support of the Remote Alternative Independent Summer Experience (RAISE) program and the Judith A. Cion ’65 Fund in Endowment for Student-Curated Exhibitions.