Turning a lens on the tragedy and mystery of the U.S.–Mexico frontier
Although Richard Misrach has been photographing the American desert for more than 40 years, it wasn’t until 2009 that he decided to turn his full attention to the 1,969-mile border between the United States and Mexico. The multibillion-dollar barrier under construction, with long sections made out of Corten steel, was radically reconfiguring the landscape. It was, he says, an eye-opener — he saw the border as a place where politics and culture collided against each other with unexpected, and often tragic, implications. Misrach has always been interested in what he calls “traces of the future,” objects whose meanings are not clear when he photographs them but that emerge over time, signaling a new historic moment. The building of the border wall was one such moment. Ever since, he has traveled from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico six times a year looking for the future.
For most of his career, Misrach has worked alone, but two years ago, he began to collaborate with the composer Guillermo Galindo. Galindo’s music, written for instruments made from objects found along the border, will interact with Misrach’s photographs in an exhibition that the San Jose Museum of Art is mounting in the spring of 2016. The exhibition will tour the country through 2018, and Aperture will publish a book documenting the collaboration. These photographs appear here for the first time.
Scroll to look left and right
In November 2011, Misrach participated in a Pop-Up Magazine event in San Francisco. One of his fellow contributors was Galindo, who performed a piece with the writer Daniel Alarcón, in which the instruments were made from objects found along the border. Struck by the resonance between his photographs and Galindo’s music, Misrach says he had shivers. A few months later, the two decided to collaborate. Misrach sends objects he comes across at the border to Galindo, who transforms them into instruments and writes compositions for them. “Richard’s photographs have become music,” Galindo says, “and my music has materialized into his images. One thing cannot exist without the other.”