Postcommodity: Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez, and Kade L. Twist
11 January – 18 March 2018
Curated by Suzanne Carte
The USA-based collective Postcommodity (Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez, and Kade L. Twist) is known for large-scale, performative, and installation-based works that hyper-perform national limits. These works visually exaggerate borders and systems of control in order to emphasize their real and psychological presence. The two recent works exhibited at AGYU focus on border construction and contestation, permutation and movement—and engage in discourses on redistribution, equity, and sovereignty as they pertain to the borders that extend from Mexico to the United States and to Canada.
A Very Long Line
A Very Long Line depicts the fence dividing the city of Douglas, Arizona, and the town of Agua Prieta, Sonora — an imposed borderline that also cleaves traditional Indigenous territories. The piece acknowledges the disruption of Indigenous peoples through colonial land demarcation. It broadens the dialogue on the complexity of Indigeneity in these geo-politically contested spaces and honours the diaspora of transborder families intertwined with the North American immigration system.
Coyotaje focuses on the micropolitics of the territorial divide, revealing the relationship between Federal patrols and migrants. This work comes out of the research undertaken during their 2015 two-mile land art piece, Repellent Fence, which ran through the US/Mexico border. During the conceptualization and construction of this large-scale intervention, Postcommodity built deep relationships with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of the Department of Homeland Security and the people of Agua Prieta. These conversations and mediations propelled and furthered the colletive’s investigation into how both sides strategize to entrap and evade.
Taking its title from the coyotaje—a person employed to smuggle migrant labourers across the border—this work accentuates the number of intricate positions at play in borderland security. It underscores the lengths at which both sides are invested in the deceptive operation of human economies.
Deploying illusions and tactical manoeuvres employed by Homeland Security, Coyotaje takes viewers on an auditory, ambulatory journey through a darkened landscape. But beware: the legendary Chupacabra is known to lurk in the shadows awaiting victims. A spiney, vampiric dog-like creature, the Chupacabra is said to be the destroyer of livestock — draining animals of their blood. Border officers instill fear by feeding off of the myth of this predator. In the dark southwestern desert landscape, the greenish glow of night vision goggles resembles the ghoulish glare of the beast.
One can understand how an urban legend can quickly become reality. Es más alcanzable de lo que se imaginaban (a projected photograph incorporated into the Coyotaje installation) sheds some light on how the belief in the creature’s existence can arise. Science fiction becomes reality when faced with the haunting image of a dead horse being picked for scraps by three dogs in the border’s no-go zone. Standing over the skeletal remains, the canines bear an uncanny resemblance to the Chupacabra. The image troubles borders of the real and the imaginary, making it difficult to decipher or trust what we think to be true. In the dark of night, rattled with fear and uncertainty, the Chupacabra becomes a tangible threat, a true monster that preys on panic and obstructs liberty and
Voices call out to help you navigate the darkness. ¡Psst! ¡Psst! ¡Oyes vengan acá! They whisper to us. Postcommodity’s audio exploration mimics sonic tactics utilized by US Border agents to lure people through the landscape. ¡Por aqui esta limpio! They signal to continue deeper into the gallery space. Using hyper-directional sound, the submerged messages become palpable, like a membrane, a border to be pierced.
The secret whispers lead you to the beast itself. Based on inflatable decoys deployed by the US military, the Chupacabra looms large in the third gallery space. Fake armies are constructed from balloon like structures to replicate everything from tanks and missiles to full Air Force bases, complete with scale planes. The inflatables function as theatre props that can be easily erected and deflated for stealth transport. When detected by overhead drones the replicas appear as real as the Chupacabra.
Here, you too are being observed from above. Surveillance cameras capture your movements in the space and project it onto the monster. Monitoring your every move, the gallery’s security systems implicate you in borders transgressed.
Postcommodity is an interdisciplinary collective founded in 2007. They are recipients of grants from the Joan Mitchell Foundation (2010), Creative Capital (2012), Art Matters (2013), Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (2014), Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation (2017), and, most recently, The Ford Foundation’s Art of Change Fellowship (2017). The collective has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including: Contour the 5th Biennial of the Moving Image in Mechelen, BE; Nuit Blanche, Toronto, CA; 18th Biennale of Sydney in Sydney, AUS; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Scottsdale, AZ; 2017 Whitney Biennial, New York, NY; Art in General, New York, NY; documenta14, Athens, GR and Kassel, DE.