Postcommodity stages installation and public engagement on U.S./Mexico border

Postcommodity stages installation and public engagement on U.S./Mexico border

Creative Capital

Postcommodity, Repellent Fence (US/Mexico Borderlands), 2015. Image courtesy of the artists.

August 18, 2015

Repellent Fence

October 9–12, 2015

Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Mexico

Continuing their exploration of contested spaces, the indigenous artist collective Postcommodity will present Repellent Fence, the largest binational land art installation ever exhibited on the U.S./Mexican border. The fence, which will be installed through a community action from October 9–12 near Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Mexico, will be comprised of 26 tethered “scare eye” balloons, ten feet in diameter, floating 50 feet above the desert landscape to create a temporary two-mile-long sculpture that intersects the U.S./Mexico border. The project is presented in collaboration with Arizona State University Art Museum and supported by Creative Capital, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation and Art Matters. 
The geographic location chosen for Repellent Fence is the center point of the largest and most densely fortified militarized zone of the Western Hemisphere. This border region and its omnipresent military and surveillance systems artificially divide people, cultures, languages and communities from themselves and the land, disrupting interdependent human, cultural and environmental relationships that have existed for thousands of years.
Postcommodity’s members—Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez, Kade L. Twist and Nathan Young—stated, “Our goal for the Repellent Fence project is to build binational bridges between American Indian, Mexican and Latin American immigrant communities. Through community action and public engagement, we seek to demonstrate the interconnectedness of the hemisphere, acknowledging and reaffirming the indigeneity of immigrant peoples as well as the original inhabitants of this region. We want to give voice to the land and peoples that exist within an increasingly hostile environment of competing worldviews, economic and political wills and ever-intensifying surveillance and militarization.”

The spheres in the Repellent Fence are enlarged replicas of “scare eye” balloons, ineffective consumer bird repellent products that utilize iconography and traditional medicinal colors used for thousands of years by Indigenous peoples from South America to Canada. Postcommodity notes, “Regardless of the intentions behind the design of the ‘scare eye’ balloon, it is perhaps one of the most powerful indigenous ready-mades of our contemporary era.” Drawing on the history of this iconography and its broad proliferation, Postcommodity presents this monumental procession of “scare-eye” balloons as a symbolic demonstration of the social, cultural, economic and political interconnectedness of Indigenous peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere. 

Gordon Knox, Director of the Arizona State University Art Museum, said, “This act of reinhabiting historically shared terrain and marking it with contemporary versions of ancient icons reveals the U.S./Mexican border to be what it is: the arbitrary and artificial overlay of power derived through coercion.”    
The monumental Repellent Fence installation is part of a larger public engagement campaign that includes public programming, performances and the first cross-border art walk in Douglas and Agua Prieta. To produce Repellent Fence, Postcommodity has worked outside the framework of arts institutions and galleries, instead relying on the power of co-intentionality and the desire of border cities like Douglas and Agua Prieta to generatively redefine binational dialogue and collaboration. The artists have worked closely with individuals, communities, institutional organizations, publics and sovereigns to acquire permission to bisect the border; stage the installation on public and private land in Mexico and the U.S.; ensure safe public access for audiences viewing the work; and plan relevant educational and public programing to promote binational dialogue and the recovery of knowledge.    
About Postcommodity                
Postcommodity’s art functions as a shared Indigenous voice to engage manifestations of globalism and the ever-expanding, multinational, multiracial and multiethnic colonizing force that is defining the 21st Century through ever increasing velocities and complex forms of violence. Postcommodity works to forge new metaphors capable of rationalizing our shared experiences within this increasingly challenging contemporary environment; promote a constructive discourse that challenges the social, political and economic processes that are destabilizing communities and geographies; and connect indigenous narratives of cultural self-determination with the broader public.

To learn more about Postcommodity and Repellent Fence, read a conversation between the artists and Bill Kelley, Jr. in Afterall’s summer 2015 issue.

Press inquiries: postcommodity [​at​]

Creative Capital

Postcommodity stages installation and public engagement on U.S./Mexico border
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