presented by 601Artspace, in collaboration with No Longer Empty
On Friday, February 1, 2019, we hosted a conversation with exhibiting artist Juan Obando, a presentation about sanctuary spaces from Juan Carlos Ruiz with photographs by Cinthya Santos-Briones, and a Know Your Rights training with Luba Cortés, moderated by Juliana Steiner and Rachel Gugelberger.
Holes in Maps, curated by Juliana Steiner, featured the work of artists who challenge the certainty and stability of maps and boundaries, exploring the immense gulf between lines on paper and lived experience. For example, Reynier Novo Leyva’s Eternamente te esperare (I’ll Wait for You Forever) is a response and testament to the potentially lethal journeys undertaken by Cuban migrants who cross the Caribbean sea. Juan Obando’s Museum Mixtapes both critiques and momentarily interrupts the historical exclusion of certain social groups from cultural spaces like museums. At the heart of the exhibition is curator Juliana Steiner’s desire to speak not just to the global migrant crisis and systemic inequality, but to the rise of nationalist, populist rhetoric, through artworks that expose the fault lines within symbols of national identity.
At this moment in time, many of us--artists, curators and arts workers, are asking how to meaningfully create change in the world around us, and in particular, how to counter current immigration policies and support (im)migrants. In response to this need, 601Artspace is collaborating with No Longer Empty to create a unique program that discusses how we can participate in building safe spaces, whether through creative means, physical sanctuary, or knowledge of legal rights. The evening began with a conversation with exhibiting artist Juan Obando about his practice, followed by a presentation about the history of sanctuary spaces and the work of documentary photographer Cynthia Santos-Briones by Reverend Juan Carlos Ruiz. We concluded with a Know Your Rights training by Luba Cortés that offers practical information about legal rights and how to react effectively when interacting with ICE. No Longer Empty, a non-profit arts organization, recently launched Sessions: (Im)migration, a site-responsive and community-centered art, education and engagement platform that explores the gulf between maps, borders, policy and lived experience.
Luba Cortés is Immigrant Defense Coordinator at Make the Road New York, a writer, organizer, and advocate, whose work explores the intersections of undocumented experiences, queerness, and indigeneity. They came to New York from Puebla, Mexico, and has been organizing immigrant communities since they were a teen. Luba’s current work is focused on supporting detained immigrants and changing the narrative around enforcement.
Juan Obando is a Colombian artist who lives and works between Bogotá and Boston, where he is an Assistant Professor in the Studio for Interrelated Media program at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Throughout Obando’s work, the world appears as a network of operating systems defined by accelerated globalization and accumulated capital. His work focuses on the intervention of these systems towards the production of site-specific video-performances, post-digital objects, and screen-based installations —using social phenomena as raw material and humor as a catalyst in the revelation of systemic ironies and contradictions.
Rev. Juan Carlos Ruiz is co-founder of the National New Sanctuary and has served as an organizer for the New Sanctuary Coalition to expand their Legal Orientation Clinics, Accompaniment Sanctuary Program and Sanctuary Hood. He lived in St. Jacobi Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, where he and documentary photographer Cinthya Santos-Briones coordinated the church’s sanctuary space. Influenced by the struggle for human rights, issues of migration, gender, and identity, Santos-Briones’ photography grew out of her work as an anthropologist in Mexico and a community organizer in New York.
No Longer Empty (nolongerempty.org) curates site-responsive and community-centered exhibitions, education, and public programs in unique locations in New York City. These projects serve as artistic platforms for collaboration and dialogue around social, cultural, and political issues that amplify community histories, networks, and cultural resources.