Border Cantos Richard Misrach x Guillermo Galindo Sonic Border

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art (Greensburg, PA) presents a timely exhibition about the Mexican-American border. Border Cantos | Sonic Border is a unique collaboration between American photographer Richard Misrach and Mexican American artist/composer Guillermo Galindo. The artists respond to the physical and psychological divide between the U.S. and Mexico through an exhibition that blends photography, sculpture, sound and found objects.

The Border Cantos Richard Misrach – Guillermo Galindo exhibition arose from a chance encounter in San Francisco in 2011, when Misrach attended a performance by Galindo in which the latter presented an original composition played on instruments he constructed from objects found at the Mexican-American border. The following year, the two artists started working together.

Misrach originally began developing Border Cantos in 2009. While photographing near the border, he noticed increased surveillance and military presence due to the expansion of the border fence. Since then, he has photographed along the entire length of the border and captured its diverse styles of fencing, as well as the landscapes, and the communities, the fence traverses. Misrach’s large-scale photographs beautifully capture the various textures and experiences found across the almost 2,000-mile dividing line.

By showing moments of disruption on the land, they also introduce a complicated look at the policing of the boundary. 

Guillermo Galindo “Sonic Border”

Guillermo Galindo (b. 1960), Shell Piñata, 2014, Piñata de casquillos, Sheet metal and shotgun shell casings, 17 x 30 x 30 inches, Art Bridges, AB.2017.4.6. Photo: Courtesy of the artist, photo by Richard Misrach 

Like Misrach, Galindo’s works are landscapes, but they are meant to be heard rather than seen. From footsteps on rocks to the buzzing of drones overhead, the borderland has its own soundtrack. Using a unique combination of Western music experimentation, world folk music, and avant-garde sculptural practice, Galindo’s compositions evoke the journey through this landscape. 

Galindo’s installation Sonic Border is an original score for eight instruments, created out of discarded objects found and collected at the border, many of which Misrach found and sent to him. The composition embraces the pre-Columbian belief in the intimate connection between an instrument and the material from which it was made, with no separation between spiritual and physical worlds.

Based on the Mesoamerican “Venus calendar,” Sonic Border plays for a total of 260 minutes and is separated into 13 cycles of 20 minutes. Within these cycles, the instruments play in small groups of two or more, or all together as an orchestra. The exhibition will feature two additional sculptural works on loan from Galindo, Exterminating Angel, 2015, and Zapatello, 2014,  that were also  created from found objects discarded near the border.

When experienced as a whole, the large-scale photographic images, found-object sculptures, and emanating sounds of the composition create an immersive space in which to look, listen, and learn about the complicated issues surrounding the Mexican-American border.

As Galindo states, “We want to give people the experience of the border, and to get acquainted with the immigrant’s journey. To make it palpable. To make it human.”

Border Cantos Richard Misrach – Guillermo Galindo is organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas with additional loans from the artists. 

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