[Jason De León] Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist

Jason De León

Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94)

Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94) is a prototype of a participatory political art installation organized by the Undocumented Migration Project that launches simultaneously in 150 locations around the globe in fall 2020. A 20-foot-long map of the Arizona/Mexico border is populated with 3,117 handwritten toe tags that contain information about those who have died while migrating, including name (if known), age, sex, cause of death, condition of body, and location. Some tags contain QR and augmented-reality codes that link to content related to migrant stories, and visuals connected to immigration that can be accessed via cell phone. HT94 is intended to memorialize and bear witness to the thousands who have died as a result of the U.S. Border Patrol’s immigration enforcement strategy known as “Prevention Through Deterrence.”

The most crucial (and interactive) aspect of the installation is the act of audience members committing their time and energy to meticulously fill out the death details for all 3,117 toe tags, and then placing these tags in the exact locations on the map where those individuals were found.

See more on the exhibition here

​​​​​​Este mapa contiene 3,117 etiquetas que representan a las personas que murieron al cruzar la frontera entre los Estados Unidos y México entre mediados de la década de 1990 y 2019. Las etiquetas marrón claro representan personas que han sido identificadas. Las etiquetas naranjas representan restos humanos no identificados. Estas etiquetas fueron completadas por estudiantes de Bard College y miembros de la comunidad en noviembre de 2019. Varios de las etiquetas este muro tienen códigos QR que se conectan al contenido en línea con respecto a los problemas de los migrantes a lo largo de la frontera sur de Estados Unidos.

Introduction

The Border Patrol officially launched Prevention Through Deterrence in 1994. It was designed to discourage undocumented migrants from attempting to cross the border near urban ports of entry. With these traditional crossing points closed off, it was expected that people would then attempt to cross the border illegally in more remote and depopulated regions where the natural environment would act as a deterrent to movement. It was anticipated that the difficulties people experienced while hiking dozens of miles across what the Border Patrol deemed the “hostile terrain” of places like the Sonoran Desert of Arizona would eventually discourage migrants from attempting the journey. This strategy failed to deter border crossers, and instead more than six million people have attempted to migrate through the Sonoran Desert since the mid-1990s. At least 3,117 people have died, largely from dehydration and hyperthermia, while attempting this journey. Missing persons reports and forensic evidence suggest that many more have died in the region and their bodies have not been recovered, either because they perished in difficult-to-access locations or because the environment destroyed their remains. Prevention Through Deterrence is still the primary border-enforcement strategy being used on the U.S.-Mexico border today.

Introducción

En 1994, la Patrulla Fronteriza de los Estados Unidos lanzó oficialmente la estrategia de la ley de inmigración conocida como "Prevención a través de la disuasión". Esta fue una estrategia diseñada para disuadir a los inmigrantes indocumentados de intentar cruzar la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México cerca de los puertos de entrada urbanos. Con estos puntos de cruce tradicionales cerrados, se esperaba que la gente intentara cruzar la frontera ilegalmente en regiones más remotas y despobladas, donde el entorno natural actuaría como un elemento disuasorio para el movimiento. Se anticipó que las dificultades que en el camino qe la Patrulla Fronteriza consideró "terreno hostil" de lugares como el Desierto de Sonora de Arizona eventualmente desanimaría a los migrantes a intentar el viaje. Esta estrategia no logró disuadir a los que cruzan la frontera y más de seis millones de personas han intentado migrar a través del desierto de Sonora en el sur de Arizona desde 2000. Al menos 3,117 personas han muerto, en gran parte por deshidratación e hipertermia, mientras intentaban este viaje a través de Arizona. En los últimos años, esta estrategia ha realizado en Texas, donde cientos (quizas miles) han fallecido mientras migraban a través de áreas despobladas. Prevención a través de la disuasión sigue siendo la principal estrategia de la frontera que se usa en la frontera de EE. UU.

Interactive installation by Jason De León, Michael Wells, Lucy Cahill and the Undocumented Migration Project
This program is a part of the 2019 Live Arts Bard Biennial: Where No Wall Remains.

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