Transborder Art Activism and the U.S.-Mexico Border: Analyzing “Artscapes” as Forms of Resistance and Cultural Production in the Frame of Globalization

By Christina Aushana.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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

This research attempts to adjudicate practices of contemporary artists in relation to the pervasive border politics and discourses which have emerged both before the 1990s and post-NAFTA. By looking at the ways in which contemporary art practices have intersected with an activist aesthetic over the last 40 years, one may begin to see how the physical landscape of the U.S. -Mexico border region and the border wall itself are engendered with dichotomous representations of people living within close proximity to it. Within the scope of this project, various artworks are analyzed and critiqued for their ability to enable new spaces for public discourse and to function as modes of resistance to hegemonic narratives about the border. By analyzing instances of transborder art activism through the flows of “artscapes”, this research looks closely at the work of artists like Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Rubén Ortiz-Torres, and Ricardo Dominguez. Additionally, by utilizing the notions of artscapes and hybridity, this discussion will navigate the flows of transborder art activism by looking at how four specific art collectives have, since the Chicano art movement, critiqued global cultural flows in relation to the U.S. -Mexico border that have transformed the political and sociocultural arena of public discourse. Though prior research has been conducted on how players like the mass media have been responsible for shaping public opinion pertaining to the border, this research suggests that artists and other cultural activists play a crucial role in critiquing deeply embedded narratives about nationality, gender, and class as they relate to the U.S. -Mexico border and the encompassing border region.

Keywords: Hybridity, Activism, Immigration, Transborder, Globalization, Flows, Framing, Imperialism, Xenophobia

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 7, pp.127-142. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.143MB).

Christina Aushana

Graduate, University of California, San Diego, California, USA

Though my undergraduate education has been shared between the visual arts and communication studies, the penultimate fusion of my passion for both contemporary art practice and communication theory marked the moment that my research interests became clear to me. As a contemporary artist myself, I have gained both academic and cultural access to the various channels by which I have been able to study transborder art activism in relation to border politics. The power dynamics at work at the site of the border region have shaped how I confront issues of migration and have also factored into my personal experiences as a child of two immigrants as well. I have also begun to explore the issues engendered in my research through a more grassroots, local channel. A colleague and I have started a non-profit organization which aims to support community development and encourage social awareness through art for teens in the City Heights community of San Diego entitled, Rethink Art: Afterschool Art Activism. When I am not pursuing my research interests, I fulfill my duties as marketing director for iJourneyGreen.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization specializing in sustainable travel initiatives and partnerships with local projects worldwide.

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