Performing Migration: Art and Site-Specificity at the U.S.-Mexico Border

By Ila Sheren.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The U.S.-Mexico border region has been theorized in the writings of Gloria Anzaldua (1987), Nestor García Canclini (1995), Walter D. Mignolo (2000), and others as a liminal space, generating new kinds of hybridity in the minds and actions of so-called “border subjects.” Anzaldua identified with the spiritual, primal, indigenous roots that were hidden by years of Americanization. García Canclini offered up the notion of “hybrid cultures” in which the modern and the traditional not only coexist to create something new. Finally, Mignolo delved into the psychological mindset of the border subject, identifying a kind of “border thinking” that defines not only physical but internal borders. These theorizations were a response to the mixing of art and culture on international borders, at which a distinct society was being formed. In turn, these attempts to understand the border have influenced an artistic response that embraces the notion of site as a performative gesture. It is in this theoretical context that I will contrast two border performances, The Cloud by Alfredo Jaar (2000) and One Flew over the Void by Javier Téllez (2005).

Keywords: Borders, Mexico, United States, Performance Art, Alfredo Jaar, Insite, Javier Tellez

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.353-364. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.527MB).

Dr. Ila Sheren

Doctoral Candidate, History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Ila Sheren is a doctoral candidate at MIT’s History Theory and Criticism program in the Department of Architecture. She specializes in the history of performance art at the U.S.-Mexico border (as well as other, related borders). The title of her dissertation (expected completion: 2011) is Portable Borders/Mythical Sites: Performance art and Politics at the U.S. Frontera, 1960 to the Present.


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