Land Escape

Site-Specific Installation for The Bass Museum Walgreens Windows Space
Paper, Barbed Wire, Tempered Hardboard, Latex Paint
56’ x 12’ x 3’

Land Escape is a site-specific installation depicting the act of immigration in its peril and absurdity. A scene bearing witness to the act of humans walking, carrying, searching, avoiding, seeking. This installation is an extension of a project created during Peñafiel’s 100 W Corsicana artist residency in Corsicana, TX.

Humans have always migrated — but today there are legal boundaries deeper than rivers, cultural resistance more formidable than mountains. A poisonous public dialogue on immigration unfolds across the world, yet their existence is sanitized out of public spaces. Meanwhile, people must continue to walk across borders through the dubious territory of documents and customs, safety and arrest. Land Escape brings that journey, so often talked about and so little seen.

Set against the pastel backdrop of Miami’s palette and urbanism, Land Escape depicts a caravan trudging through an abstracted world created out of drawing, photography, and found objects. These masked travelers move through a space with no clear geography, no set rules, no distinct path. A world made bizarre by their act of immigration. Land Escape’s tableau echoes the Parthenon frieze — a scene of travel from antiquity — showing another cycle of human movement. The format of a retail window display brings the immigrants and their journey parallel to the sidewalk, allowing others to march parallel alongside the scene, separated by barbed wire. Most importantly, the familiarity of the format situates the struggle of the immigrants where we are used to seeing the aspirational. This highlights the most difficult truth. The plight of the immigrant is the aspiration of some, the lived experience of others.

Funding for this project was provided by The Bass Museum, Miami Beach, FL.