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.