Thursday, December 13, 2007
On Illegal Immigration and Labor
I do hope that this piece is clear enough to not need explanation, but I'll explain it, just in case. The assignment in class was an illustration on any article related to the current debate about illegal immigration. I went through a number of ideas relaying the inadequacy of the legal system in meeting the reality of immigration: the generations, the families, the ties to the new land, the mistreatment. But instead of focusing on the problems of the system, I chose to bring attention to the contribution of the illegal laborers to our society that plenty of people consider negligible because it is a convenient thought.
I wanted to celebrate the physical act of making a city, in a way as a symbol for the life physically lived there--perhaps a life without rights, but an undeniable life.
The original version of the image had businessman-looking boots on the right side, indicating in one dimension the people who own (by standing on it) the city others built for them, and in another dimension--the juxtaposition of the immigrant hands to the city-owners' boots, that exposed the body language of social classes. Who hasn't got the right to own has got to kneel, even though they spend themselves to make what is owned.
This element was eliminated under the direction of my teacher, Sterling, who said that the boots standing on the city would destroy the credibility of the transformation of bricks into buildings. He is probably right about that. So this piece, rather than being about the contrast of classes, became mostly about the act of making, the physicality of maintaining an environment that makes you attached to it, whether you wanted to be a part of it in the first place or not. I attempted to bring that out by roughing out the texture of the bricks, bringing their physicality into focus.
I am not sure if I succeeded in delivering all these thoughts through the piece, but I hope that the thoughts gave it an emotional validity.
Any comments are welcome, as always.