Photo exhibit brings harsh reality of Arizona border to Mills

By
January 29, 2004

Mills College Weekly

Mujeres Unidas, in conjunction with Mills College, presented the
photographs of Karina Muniz from a collection entitled “Borders:
Realities and Resistance.” The collection, presented on Jan. 22,
consisted of a graphic depiction of the adversity that immigrants
from Mexico faced when attempting to enter the U.S. through
Arizona.

In addition to the photographs, there were short explanations of
the trials that these people faced, which explained that they often
died in the dangerous tract of land that is open for them to pass
through. Mills students responded very strongly to the exhibition,
showing up and observing it in nearly silent reverie. Muniz said
that many of the points of entry were closed in order to limit the
number of immigrants, but the reality is that the lack of
entrypoints results in a three to four day walk through the
desert.

“Over 200 migrants have died this year trying to cross the
border from Mexico to Arizona-many of them from dehydration. By
sealing up points of entry people have traditionally crossed
through, the U.S. Border Patrol routes and funnels immigrants
through a harsh and lethal corridor,” read the explanation next to
the photo entitled “Footprints in the desert.”

“Velas,” [candles] were lit at each table as a silent prayer for
those who had died in the attempt to seek a better life in
America.

“I think it’s one way of letting people know,” said Muniz.

In addition to pictures of the harsh climate, there were
pictures of “water stations,” where samaritans left water for
travelers, which often made the difference between life and death
for them. Photos were taken of the wall, which ironically was made
out of the landing mats that were used by the military during the
Gulf War. Photographs such as “Footprints” and “Abandoned Book”
showed things that people see every day, but in the context of the
showing, they took on a deeper meaning: a memoir of those who had
passed through and the suffering that they endured. Other pictures
of the wall included artwork that was done by the community in
response to its placement; some painted the wall to make it more
aesthetically pleasing; others had statue representations of the
struggles against the wall that the immigrants face. There were
photographs of the memorials of those who had died; of crosses with
the numbers of immigrants that had died in the last year, with
empty water bottles at the base as a reminder of why these people
died. Muniz also pointed out that President Bush’s immigration
reform will cause more deaths. In President Bush’s Jan. 7 speech,
he stated that, “Illegal entry across our borders makes more
difficult the urgent task of securing the homeland.” The
photographs bring to mind the question “At what cost?”

“It’s useful to remind people of the tragedies of what happens
at the border,” said Gloria Espinosa, one of the co-Presidents of
Mujeres Unidas.

Another student response to the exhibit was articulated by Alma
Alvarado, “I think it’s amazing how she captured such beauty in
something so difficult.”

“Its real and it means something,” another student Azure
Bowie-Hankins said.

“Borders: Realities and Resistance” will be exhibited at the
Asian Resource Center located on Harrison between 8th and 9th
streets from Jan. 26 through Mar. 26, with the opening reception
being held on Feb. 5.


Photo exhibit brings harsh reality of Arizona border to Mills was published on January 29, 2004 in Features

Print this page Print this page