One to Another

Over the last few years, hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled their homes—places like Syria, Myanmar, and El Salvador—in search of respite from war, unbearable violence, famine, and climate catastrophe. These migrants are among tens of millions of people who are currently displaced, seeking asylum, or stateless; add in those migrating for labor and economic opportunity, and the number increases to a quarter billion people moving around the world. Philosopher Thomas Nail writes, “This increase in human mobility and expulsion affects us all. It should be recognised as a defining feature of our epoch: the 21st century will be the century of the migrant.” This wave of human movement brings with it social, economic, and political repercussions. Divisive debates over immigration policy and increased partisanship can be seen across the world. What does the future hold if these migratory trend lines continue? How do we individually and collectively approach the real world consequences of uprooted lives and shifting demographics? Where do we begin?

One to Another, led by Borderland Collective artists Mark Menjivar, Molly Sherman, and Jason Reed, activated Artpace’s Hudson Showroom and Main Space galleries in Fall 2018, turning them into spaces of listening, critical inquiry, and participation. The exhibition invites viewers to contemplate their own familial migration stories within the context of larger migration narratives. Stories gathered from around the country will serve as a starting point, but the exhibition also utilizes forensic archives, video and sound installations, a refugee housing unit, and United Nations hearings to engender a critically conscious reading of how narratives are constructed within layered contexts of media, politics, and individual lives. Storytelling is generative, can open a door to empathy, and move us to action. As spanish philosopher Fina Birulés says, “While storytelling does not solve any problem and does not master anything forever, it adds yet another element in the repertory of the world, it is a way for human beings to leave a lasting presence in the world, not as species, but as a plurality of who’s.” We each have a migration story—some are just more recent than others.