diaspora I / II combines Sánchez’s experiments into the nature of sound with a sensitivity towards her physical and cultural surroundings. Investigating Mexico’s social plight, she creates two spaces, one sonic—2487—and the other architectural/material—riverbank—to reanimate the complexities of the United States/Mexico border.
diaspora I / II’s initial gestures are more heard than seen, as spoken names sound from spare, low-mounted speakers in 2487. A role-call of absent persons, the installation records 2,487 of the estimated 8,000 who have died while trying to traverse into the United States from Mexico since 1993. Like the border, Sánchez’s list is not exclusive. It reflects the breadth of Latin America’s poverty-driven exodus, including old and young, male and female, and an ethnic spectrum of Mexican-nationals as well as other foreign citizens.
An improvised bench offers viewers a seat for contemplation. Its structure, a network of legs, resembles the code that randomly samples and sequences Sánchez’s database. Written specifically for 2487, the program raises name after name out of silence and into organic arrangement. This act of calling, basic but defining, restores these lost individuals to the present. Overlapping in time the names become forceful together, a symbol of common escape and shared fate.
Accompanying the names is riverbank, an assemblage of clothes, plastic bags, and personal items collected from the United States bank of the Rio Grande. The objects, strewn beyond a wall and beneath a skylight, present the muddied attire worn by individuals as they navigated the river’s waters. Shed hastily to avoid detection on American soil, these garments stand as molted shells of unknowns. Disembodied but present, diaspora I / II stakes out a zone that all viewers may cross to find meaning in today’s political debates.
-Kurt Dominick Mueller
Graduate Curatorial Intern