Immigration is a double edge in American culture, cutting both ways. It is in part the crux of our own origin myth, the pursuit of a better life in a new place, but celebrating this also interferes with the xenophobic way in which we define ourselves in the North American landmass. Julio Cesar Morales’ treatment of the subject is deeply emotional and sentimental in his show “Forever Now!” at Gallery Wendi Norris. Sentimental not in the nostalgic sense, the show itself is born form the story of two brothers attempting to cross a desert with only one surviving the journey, but in the tender, sad sense of low key contemplation about borders, territory and how these political features define people.
The line work and color fields at play in his “We are the Dead” series seem to allude to these demarcations literally. Their impression on video stills taken from the location of the brother’s crossing attempt seems to call attention to the artificiality of these lines and borders in general, no more part of the land they bisect than the colors that interrupt the video footage. Though they might represent a disjoint, the image itself is lovely, transforming the story from mere urban legend to allegory.
Images from the “(Untitled Remnants)” series have a similar ethereal effect, the black and white silhouettes of the personal ephemera (ID cards, combs, make-up brushes and socks) seem to embody their own spirits, items meant to ease the cross over to a new life like the treasures found in so many Egyptian tombs. The ephemeral state is again reinforced by the “Al Cielo” series, though the idea of ghostliness is more present as these drawings depict actual people in seemingly different states of ascension, moving from one place, or life, to the next.
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-Contributed by Kathryn McKinney