State of Exception/Estado de Excepción

The exhibition of photographs and artifacts left behind by those trying to find their way across the Sonoran Desert on their way from Mexico into the United States.  “State of Exception/Estado de Excepción was launched at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan and has travelled to Detroit and Grand Rapids, Mich., and Phoenix, Ariz.” and is now open in New York City.

Hundreds of backpacks, mementos found on bodies of those who perished, photographs and so much more has been recovered from the desert.  These artifacts depict the vast amount of people fleeing poverty and dangerous drug cartels, seeking a safe life in the “Land of the Free” only to be forced by walls and harsh security measures to gain access in the most dangerous region.  It has been said that walls and border security have been purposefully set up that way in hopes that the desert would do the dirty work of keeping illegal migrants out of America.

This exhibit is a harsh reminder that there are people in this world who live in conditions so horrible that they would risk their lives crossing a deadly desert in hopes of finding work and safety.  These are not the remnants of dangerous drug lords and hardened criminals that politicians keep screaming about keeping out of the country.  No.  These are young men searching for work, women and children; they are everyday, innocent, civilians just like us who want for nothing more than to live in a country with fair working conditions and safety from war and drug dealers; they are parents who want their children to grow up with a fighting chance of not being pulled into a gang.

Some people question whether this type of exhibit is actually Art or just a collection of artifacts.  But I think that as long as the artifacts are trying to say something, trying to call attention to an important political/humanitarian issue, and doing it in a visually stimulating manner… then it couldn’t be anything but art.


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