Internalized Borders

President’s Gallery

899 Tenth Avenue

6th Floor

New York, NY 10019


On view February 14th-April 13th, 2018

Opening Reception on February 14th, 2018 with performance art and music 5:30 – 9PM

Symposium March 21 5:30 – 7:30PM 

Internalized Borders addresses immigration, identity, detention, and deportation. Taking the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center as a pivotal moment for the escalation of attacks on immigrants, this exhibition examines the various ways that language and legal systems create internal and external borders based on fear, the criminalization of identity, the economics of migration, and the construction of otherness.

A border can be a physical wall between territories restricting people from moving freely across it, a social construct articulated through language and belief systems, a psychological state, or a checkpoint for the legal system to determine who is accepted and who is not. Humans define themselves in the context of groups framed by these borders. As borders are internalized they modify who we are with categories such as race, gender, religion, ethnicity, and language—ultimately a stereotyping belief system that creates oppressive categories which manifest as racism, sexism, and classism. Borders subjugate cultural identity and exaggerate our differences, but can also cultivate transient cultures and the sharing of disparate ideas.

While borders are real, they are also permeable—social constructs that require constant re-examination. The artists we have selected explore these ideas and offer a counter discourse. Francisco Donoso‘s in the installation Finding Form mixes the vocabulary of cartography with an abstract terrain, to question the arbitrariness of borders, the search for a sense of place and the psychological displacement experienced by migrants.

Alva Mooses’ installation Moving Earth/ Moviendo Tierra examines the legal process of relocating landscape transporting a singular Adobe brick from Northern Mexico to the States. Joiri Minaya’s video Siboney investigates ways of hacking the dominant narrative projected onto us through an embodiment of that projection to create a hyper awareness of our assumptions.

Edel Rodriguez’s drawing of a drowned hand entangled with a red line creates a strong visual statement about violence against people of color. Cuban immigrant Tatiana Garmendia’s video Border Crossing, the artist lies partially nude and face up, with eyes staring upwards. The motionless body is spotlighted from above as though a surveillance airplane has found her. Deborah Faye Lawrence’s collage Game of the Occupied States (“Buy and Sell from Coast to Coast”) provides a chilling image of a police state with surveillance towers punctuating a border fence around the whole country.

Ricardo Gomez’s Labyrinth with Wall (Map) uses a labyrinth overlaid with a map of the Americas and a symbolic representation of the wall running along the US-Mexico BORDER.  Felipe Baeza’s, Untitled (so much darkness, so much brownness), 2016, transforms the map of the United States of America through a somber earthy palette, embedding in it a brown figure reminding us of the erasures of native cultures. Similarly, Mauricio Cortes Ortega’s painting Tio Ghillie is a portrait of a Ghillie Suit (type of camouflage clothing designed to resemble the background environment such as foliage, snow or sand) that suggests that the landscape is greater than any singular force, and to question what can be seen versus what cannot, who is there and who isn’t.

Shahrzad Changalvaee from Tehran uses the vocabulary of sculpture in her creations As Long as it Casts #25, We Thought it is Obvious #1, and We Thought it Obvious #2, 2018 explore materiality, displacement, language, making and hope. Maria de Los Angeles’s wearable sculptures and installation of drawings bring on the undocumented citizen, the psychological impact of migration, biculturalism, and the ethical questions surrounding undocumented migration. Her imagery is a composite of current events, memories, imagination, myth and biographical truth.  

Internalized Borders encompasses experience by a range of individuals from all over the world and to further expand on the impact of our otherness, we have selected several works from Migration Now, which address corporations profiting from the detention centers and the devastating impact of immigration policies on indigenous peoples, families, children, members of the LGBTQ Community, and Muslims.

Internalized Borders features works by Felipe Baeza, Ricardo Gomez, Dina Burtszyn, Ryan Bonilla, Maria de Los Angeles, Alva Mooses, Mauricio Cortes Ortega, Constanza Alarcón Tennen, Francisco Donoso, Shahrzad Changalvaee, Edel Rodriguez, Tatania Garmendia, Deborah Faye Lawrence, Joiri Minaya, Jodie Lyn-kee-Chow, Patricia Cazorla, Nancy Saleme & several works from the Migration Now Portfolio.


Curated by Maria de Los Angeles and Susan Noyes Platt



This exhibition was made possible by the sponsorship of the Department of Latin American and Latina/o Studies.



Image by Ryan Bonilla, Live Free or Die, 2001