Borders: Us and Them

From March 7th to May 30th, 2017, New York University Shanghai Art Gallery is proud to present “Borders: Us and Them,” an exhibition that probes the emergence and transformation of contemporary global borders, and their socio-political implications.


In Border Memorial: Frontera de los Muertos (2016), American public artist John Craig Freeman boldly applies virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies to a documentary video shot in Southern Arizona, early 2016. This results in a visual effect of life-sized, three dimensional geometric models of a skeleton effigy, or calaca, floating off into the sky on the US-Mexico border. Calcaca, an archaic Aztec imagery, is here invoked by the artist in commemoration to the thousands of migrant workers who have died along the U.S./Mexico border since the 1990s, in the attempt to cross the desert southwest in search of work and a better life. Freeman resurrects their souls, allowing them to float freely above this border in the virtual, public site. A memorial to those passed, his work also amounts to a vehement critique of American values on the other side of the border, built upon an economy sustained by these very migrant workers.


About John Craig Freeman

John Craig Freeman is a public artist with over twenty years of experience using emergent technologies to produce large-scale public work at sites where the forces of globalization are impacting the lives of individuals in local communities. His work seeks to expand the notion of public by exploring how digital networked technology is transforming our sense of place. Freeman is a founding member of the international artists collective Manifest.AR and he has produced work and exhibited around the world including at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, FACT Liverpool, Kunsthallen Nikolaj Copenhagen, Triennale di Milano, the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Beijing, He has had work commissioned by the ZERO1, and His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, El Pais, Liberation, Wired News, Artforum, Ten-8, Z Magazine, Afterimage, Photo Metro, New Art Examiner, Time, Harper's and Der Spiegel. Christiane Paul cites Freeman's work in her book Digital Art, as does Lucy Lippard in the Lure of the Local, and Margot Lovejoy in Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age. His writing has been published in Rhizomes, Leonardo, the Journal of Visual Culture, and Exposure. Freeman received a Bachelor of Art degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1986 and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1990. He is currently a Professor of New Media at Emerson College in Boston. Freeman writes, “If Andy Warhol set out to create a distinctly American art form in the twentieth century, I identify with those who seek to create a distinctly global art form in the twenty-first.”
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