The Last Frontier / La última frontera
Video works by Mieke Bal, in collaboration with Michelle Williams Gamaker and Others
February 3 - March 29, 2011
This exhibition was curated by my long-term intellectual buddy, Miguel Á. Hernández Navarro, who did a fantastic job, including coordinating and writing in the fabulous catalogue. The exhibition tries to achieve two, seemingly contradictory, goals at once: to celebrate the positive aspects of the cultural transformations that migration has brought about in Western culture, and to understand, and sympathize with, migrants and the difficulties they experience upon entering Western culture.
The first goal firstly and mostly targets people who are used to Western culture and are sometimes ill at ease with the mass migration that they think is a recent phenomenon. Foregrounding the conceptual, aesthetic, and sensual pleasures these transformations offer, the videos aim to encourage a positive, indeed festive mood. The second is in the first place meant to benefit immigrants who feel met with suspicion, tension, or even outright hostility. Here, sympathy may help to change a reticent ambiance into a hospitable one.