It’s amazing how things come together when you aren’t paying attention.
It seems so coincidental, that I have to pause and ask, Is something bigger than myself at work here? I listen to RadioLab on NPR. During the summer, I heard this episode about an Anthropologist who was documenting objects left in the Sonoran Desert (Arizona). These objects ranged from thousands of backpacks, bottles, shoes, clothing, and human bones. Sadly, this area remains a grave sight for many who try to find refuge in America. It breaks my heart. This quote comes to mind, when I think about equality, freedom and politics.
Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.
John F. Kennedy
So I listened and internalized. Listened some more and moved on. About a week later, my friend Angel Fernandez calls me up. (He works at another campus within Tarrant County College.) Angel asks if I can help with editing a video and compose a soundtrack. Curious and excited, I ask him what it is. He says that he has purchased land out near Big Bend National Park. I get more excited. He tells me that he is building a 400 lb wire frame with tires attached to the outside. I get scared. He tells me that he will be filming himself pushing it on his land. I get sweaty thinking about pushing that heavy object. Conceptually, he starts to tell me of migrants from Mexico, the Devil’s Highway and a researcher he heard speak at Baylor University. WHAT!?? Is this really happening to me. Something good is about to happen! We will be entering our video into the LINES OF THOUGHT exhibition at the CICA Museum in South Korea. He gets his filming done and forgets the due date. I have a week to work on it. I rush to get it done in time to send it off in time. The exhibition is set for Oct.
Main inspiration for soundtrack: The Joker’s Theme from The Dark Knight and the beginning of Paul Thomas Anderson’s film, There Will Be Blood.
The buzzing/humming/annoyance is on purpose. You ears on not playing tricks on you. This was done using the sound of the drone and modifying to a specific tone(s). Low notes played on cello in combination.
Here is Angel’s artist statement.
The work is a performance video utilizing a spherical tire covered sculpture. The device creates a drawing on the sandy 40-acre surface on our property in Terlingua Ranch. I document the process and finished marking via drone photography as well as on the ground footage. While traveling from South Padre Island to the Big Bend along the U.S. and Mexico border, I encountered chained tires that the Border Patrol uses on the American side. Their white Suburbans drag tires to clear tracks on the dirt paths. This clearing or erasing of tracks allows them to monitor fresh foot traffic. Native Americans used this method to track and hunt various animals. This technique sustained their livelihood, which at times was unpredictable. Tires are symbols of progress, movement and date back to Sumerian culture’s invention of the wheel, one of the most revolutionary inventions of civilization.
I intend to use the tires differently from the subtracting and destroying quality. In Tires for Sisyphus, they are a creative and mark making tool. The tires and my shoes leave impressions on the earth the same way that immigrants leave evidence of their passage. This drawing is a record of the journey. The process of pushing this object on the desolate landscape suggests a perpetual struggle, one filled with tension, pain and hard work. Our existence leaves a mark on the land, good and bad. This same existence also makes impressions on our collective identity, shaping the psyche of this country.
Tires for Sisyphus is a reminder of the great cliché that great things come from hard work, risk and adventure. Immigrants make up the greatest part of our American identity and they embody the entrepreneurial American spirit that helped individuals traverse the Atlantic Ocean on their most perilous journey to this amazing land of opportunity. Presently, people come to this country and risk everything, including their lives. People are caged, turned away, and mistreated. Many will come back and try to find a different way to enter this country. This process is part of the unending cycle, a Sisyphean task, and the pursuit of a better tomorrow that may never come.
I am overwhelmed with pride at what we have accomplished.
Thank you Angel, Winter and Family for your generosity.