‘Exploring Sights, Sounds from the Border’: A multi-sensory exhibit in Samek Gallery

Sara Haber, Contributing Writer

Mexican-American artist and composer Guillermo Galindo and American photographer Richard Misrach collaborated on the “Border Cantos | Sonic Border” exhibit, which is currently showcased in the University’s Samek Art Museum. In a multi-sensory experience, Galindo and Misrach investigate life along the U.S.-Mexico border, immersing viewers in the journey of migrants attempting to cross the border.


“Border Cantos | Sonic Border” was created after Galindo and Misrach took pieces from their own exploration of the U.S.-Mexico border and transformed them into an exhibit. This exhibit serves as a commentary on the hostility of the desert, the difficulty of the migration journey, and the discord between immigrants and border-patrol agents. Galindo and Misrach’s exhibition is relevant in the current political climate, as they provide their own exploration of life along the border.


Galindo works with artifacts such as clothes, water bottles, and backpacks left behind by migrants. Using these physical remnants of migration, he creates instruments to produce music with an eerie and ominous feeling. By creating music made solely by the forgotten possessions of migrants, Galindo brings their belongings to life.


Skye Romero ’21, a guide at the Samek Art Museum, said, “The music coming from the speakers under the exhibit is him playing the instruments and it plays in the background as you walk around the exhibition.”


One of Galindo’s instrumental sculptures on display is “Effigy,” made from immigrants’ clothing, a wood axis, and strings. Effigies resemble the human form as the wood axis creates the illusion of arms and legs. These sculptures can be found along the U.S.-Mexico border to warn or commemorate migrants as they venture through the most treacherous areas of the desert. Galindo draped the wood axis with immigrants’ clothing that was found along the border. He then turned the sculpture into a guitar-like instrument with the addition of strings. At the listening station, there was a video of Galindo playing “Effigy” where he demonstrates the different tones that it makes.


The exhibit also provides large-format landscape photographs by Misrach, showing what is found along the border. These photographs range from Friendship Park, to a tattered abandoned teddy bear, to practice shooting ranges for border-patrol agents. The photographs provide context for Galindo’s sculptures as they establish the rough terrain and the tragedies that occur along the border.


One specific example is “Home, Brownsville, Texas” by Misrach. This photograph depicts a backyard of a home in Texas where the fence seen in the photograph happens to mark the U.S.-Mexico border.


“This is one of my favorite pieces because it shows such stark contrast. When I first saw this photo, I didn’t believe that the border was right there, but it is, that’s the line between the United States and Mexico. I found it really strange because when we think of the border, we think of these big patrol cars and spotlights, but this is just someone’s home with a nice manicured lawn,” Romero said.


“I think it is critical for students at the University to come see this exhibit since immigration is such a huge debate in the United States right now. ‘Border Cantos | Sonic Border’ shows life along the border from a perspective that we usually do not see in the news,” Renne Venico ’22 said.


Exploring Sights, Sounds from the Border: “Border Cantos | Sonic Border” will be on display at the Campus Gallery through March 24.

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