• No country for young Men…

    Erika Harrsch’s installation, Under the same sky... we dream is an homage to the children who try to cross borders to start a new life, and to all the parents who dream of better opportunities and a safer life. It reflects on the rights to move freely beyond borders and the consequences of unregulated migration, the detention centers for undocumented minors at the border of Mexico and the USA and the Dream-Act legislation of the immigration reform in the United States, that was never adopted.

    From 2011-2014 there was a surge in unaccompanied children from Central America seeking entrance to the United States, culminating in a socio-political crisis with an “unprepared” US.  governance and legislation. This massive exodus of undocumented children, triggered thousands of detentions. 

    Immigration detention, is big business!  Industry giants like GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) make a lucrative profit off of federal contracts to lock up undocumented immigrants waiting for their deportation hearings – due to cost-cutting measures – fail to protect them from abuse, provide adequate medical care, or ensure contact with family members, the Detention Watch Network reports.  

    In 2011, unauthorized entry and re-entry were the most prosecuted crimes in the federal judicial system, and the government contracted space with CCA and GEO Group for a combined revenue of nearly $1.4 billion.

    Being an illegal emigrant in the USA is considered a crime, a crime not worth “a pound of flesh”.

     

  • In 2010-11 a motion was put forward to pass a new bill of Congress, the Dream Act which would give a safe passage to these children to get their US citizenship or a legal visa. A path to citizenship, to stay legally in this country.

    Obama promised to implement the legislation
    The Bill never passed, and the current situation is dire.

    Being an emigrant herself and exposed to the fragility of her own situation, Erika has a personal attachment to this issue. Over the past three years she has collected 35,000 stills of the clouds at the Mexican - US border, between Juarez and El Paso, TX, collating them into a thirteen-minute video, from sunrise to sunset.

    The work itself is a metaphor of the amount of effort immigrants endure for months, even years, to cross borders — and to then reach a non-place where time and events are out of their hands, manipulated and compressed as days pass by, their lives are left adrift.

    The video is a multi-sensory perspective on the loaded realities at the border, and the immigration conundrum as a space for reflection, participation and active creation. Removing all the people from the images leaves only the presence of the natural landscape: the geopolitical boundaries become literal scars on the land: meaning murder and suffering.

    The constant passage of the clouds from both sides of the border reflect the passage of time with no resolution. In the space, the video set 'between Mexico and the United States' recalls the relativity of the physical space and territories, delimited by artificial geopolitical borders, although 'under the same sky we dream.'



     

  • We are engulfed in combined sounds of lullabies, folk Mexican songs, opera, jazz reciting the Dream Act in its totality, inviting you to a “safe space”, a womb, to understand and empathize with these children and families under the same sky.

    The melodic voice and of internationally acclaimed Mexican singer Magos Herrera contrasts the dry, categorical, and authoritative nature of the legal words that compose the lyrics.

    On the floor loose mattresses covered with mylar blankets hosting hardcover books whose cover features an enlarged image of the blankets serving as shelter — as well as a manner of hiding reality.

    Together with geophysicist Christopher Small, Erika gathered 12 years of infra-red NASA photographs of the border west to east. Half the book is dedicated to El Paso, the other half to Juarez - divided - in the middle by the bill of congress turned into concrete poetry. 

    The same bill of congress that was supposed to give a path to citizenship to these children is now barring the way.

    No resolution no hope no possibility

    When Erika started this project, there was hope… with Obama DACA was created and still within a territory of hope.

    Today, the project is presented at a time when the political reality is more obstructive than ever to the Dream Act.

  • Art might not pass the bill, but it can bring hope, understanding, empathy and acceptance to the millions of emigrants, who travel millions of miles in inhumane conditions, in the hope of a better life. 

    Looking for a better life should not be considered a crime, punto pelota!

    Yvonne Senouf



    Erika Harrsch

    Under The Same Sky 

    Under The Same Sky... We Dream 
    — Timelapse Video, voice Magos Herrera