TENDER R/AGE :: RABIA TIERNA ~ Sensorium

TENDER R/AGE :: RABIA TIERNA ~ A Sensorial Expression & Experience

TENDER R/AGE :: RABIA TIERNA is an interventionist art project that participates visually, textually, and sonically in the collective outcry against the forced separation of migrant and refugee children from their families at the US/Mexico border. Forced separation is not a new practice but one with a long and brutal history connected to colonization, slavery, internment, and imprisonment. This project connects these histories to the specific cruelty being enacted spectacularly on children at present. The photographic setting is designed to highlight the monstrous border policies of forcibly caging children in indefinite and inhumane detention and, as such, evokes the cruelty of the “tender age” facilities and tent cities being produced as part of the ever expanding Migration Industrial Complex. #NEVERAGAINISNOW #NOCAGES

¡ NO CAGES !

NO CAGE MELISSA TEENI RAGINIA_FRAMED_DSC7105
MELISSA | TEENI | RAGINI

¡ NO CAGES !

Listening to and reading news reports about the forced caging and isolation of infants and children deeply disturbs me. I feel an urge to gather together others who are feeling similarly. I crowdsourced submissions to make this a participatory project, immediately circulating a call for childhood photographs from friends and friends of friends. Using the submissions I received, I center the image of the child. I decided not to use images of actual children being forcibly separated from their caregivers as I felt it might, among more, capture children at a time of wild vulnerability and victimization and without their consent. With the help of a community-minded union print shop, I printed submitted childhood photos on photo quality card stock as paper doll-like cutouts (up to 19” in height and 13” in width, depending on the image’s quality and composition). The cutouts are intended to trouble the concepts of both childhood and of playthings, each of which are expressions and experiences of privilege and/or oppression. They generate mimetic engagement that tacitly remind us of the fact that we have all been children.

¡ NO CAGES !

NO_CAGES_ANUSHKA_SARITA_CASELY_DSC7217
ANUSHKA | SARITA | CASELY

¡ NO CAGES !

The digital photographic scene I produce deliberately evokes the specter—the shadow—of the cage within which children are presently being contained. The harsh desert sun casts a shadow across the cutouts I assemble for each photograph. Individual and group cutouts are marked by the cage’s shadow falling over the images and against a stark white background which is meant to convey a space this is not defined, at once unfamiliar, unknowable, and disorienting—a space and no-space at once. The harsh white background instantiates, too, the legacy of white supremacy in its power to both define and divide families. Shadows over the cutouts invoke life being lived in the shadow of these cages.This project recognizes that bodies are differently marked by the cage and differently constricted, terrorized, and traumatized. The cutouts placed in the midst of a stark white background and foreground also imply an over-exposure that speaks to the often im/mobilizing conditions of the production of hyper-surveillance practices and technologies. The consummate starkness of the background is intended as an abstraction that highlights the callous conditions of radical isolation for children forced, alone together, into a cage.

¡ NO CAGES !

NO CAGES SUSAN AIDA MM PRITHA MELORA FRANCISCO_DSC7196
SUSAN | AIDA | MIGUEL MARIO | PRITHA | MELORA | FRANCISCO
NO CAGE_PATTI_DSC7171
PATTI
NO CAGE KIRA NANA REX_DSC7176
KIRA | NANA | REX
NO CAGES_MARCIA LAURA BETTING CRUZ CARA_DSC7193
MARCIA | LAURA | BETTINA | CRUZ | CARA
NO CAGES_Berto_Em_Shawn_DSC7218
BERTO | EM | SHAWN
NO_CAGES_FENTON_AMANDA_RACHEL_RUBEN
FENTON | AMANDA | RACHEL | RUBEN

¡ NO CAGES !

These images evoke children cut out of contexts, separated and decontextualized, which is what is happening to them as a result of (forced) migration and of enduring the violence of numerous states (the states they fled, traveled through, and the US state). The production of such a background for the cutouts calls viewers to consider the cold and sterile conditions of any cage. In this cultivated context of nothingness, a flattened dimension and void are produced through the white background which is bound by the high intensity and highly stylized contrast of the heavy black frame bordering each photograph. That chosen frame implies the many ways the border is being insidiously reinforced and reproduced as a powerful instrument of division, control, containment, and death.

¡ NO CAGES !

NO CAGES MARITZA JAMIE EVA BETH_DSC7209
MARITZA | EVA | BETH | JAMIE

¡ NO CAGES !

In this historic moment, we are witnessing the further expansion of the for-profit, billion dollar industry of surveillance as well as border control and containment through the separation of families and the caging of children. I use cutouts to focus on this powerful control and to provoke an engagement with myriad separation policies that have (and continue to) cut children out of their family and community contexts. Cutouts are printed and held upright with DIY stands made out of protest yard signs the Gloo Factory donated. To make the stands that render cutouts 3D, signs are cut into triangles: shapes that have their own history in the brutal containment and elimination of unwanted bodies. Using double-sided adhesive, stands support the cutouts as 3D paper dolls. The stands are visible in the photographs to also signal the need for (and the expression of) support. These triangular stands represent coalitional and relational connections.

¡ NO CAGES !

NO CAGES_Susan_Paola_Ana_Adelita_Alana_DSC7213
Susan | Paola | Ana | Adelita | Alana

¡ NO CAGES !

Each photograph is accompanied by a demand for “NO CAGES.” This particular demand leaves the project open to coalitional engagement with other works attempting to intervene in imposed divisions and in the carceral state. It is a call that recognizes the related histories of internment, separation, slavery, and prisons as structures and practices of imposed separations and isolations. This photographic approach means also to highlight the instrumentalization of intimacies the state is engaged in and the ways the state has used definitions and recognitions of “family” to divide people and to dispense and withhold rights according to those normativizing definitions and recognitions. Such definitions are at play in current immigration policies that: enmesh those who are admitted in relations of surveillance, render people ineligible for entry, and otherwise produce detainments and deportations in and from the US.

¡ NO CAGES !

NO CAGE_GREG JYOTI SARVINDER_DSC7208
GREG | JYOTI | SARVINDER

¡ NO CAGES !

In addition to the visual imagery the project has a textual component. I have gathered and produced poster-like declamations from participants that offer first-person responses to and perspectives on the specific cruelty being currently enacted against migrants and refugees. They are written by Native, Diné, undocumented, white, educated, privileged, brown, black, queer, and QTPOC project participants. Some recall childhood memories of frightening if momentary separations, others address separations born of personal experiences of migration, others express simple outrage, and still others question what separation means, does, and has done for generations of families, peoples, and communities. Collectively these declamations offer an affective connection and relational contextualization of images produced as cutouts for this project.

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A soundscape collaboration with artist and sound studies scholar John Melillo is that final touch that sensorially contributes to the affective outcry of rabia tierna that structures this project.[1] This soundscape begins in the recognition that the cries of babes are ways of communicating the need for attention, comfort, care, and action. This sound mix brings together reverberations of wailing humans and non/humans including mourning doves and coyotes, cicadas and the wind, caged and crying children, and birds, in textures that re-sound as pure grief, anger, anguish, and alienation. This composition is designed to further contextualize the images within a collective sonic experience of sorrow and outrage. These are the sounds of the captors, the caged, the separated, the encroached upon, the displaced, as well as those of us witnessing. By sounding the ecologies of division and displacement that cages and borders impose, the sounds mixed here signal the lasting trauma and terror that has been installed and inflicted on children that cannot be erased by any Executive Order. This sound collage works together with photographs and words to express a sensual experience of collective outrage at the injury of imposed division across non/human contexts. Together sounds, image, and text call for all cages to be opened.

¡ NO CAGES !

¡ NO CAGES !

This art intervention is designed to stress the brutality of forced cagings, separations, and divisions. It is also an invitation to imagine, through its sounds, words, and its digitally-produced photographs and their stark background context, a vast expanse, a world perhaps, without borders. ¡ NO CAGES. NO BORDERS ! What would that look like? Feel like? Do? And be?

POP-UPs must be planned in coordination with local migrant justice and/or social justice arts organizations. They should also function as fundraising events for local organizations serving migrants and refugees. In addition to an artist talk, POP-Ups should include local voices addressing local initiatives and needs. To schedule a pop-up installation or more formal exhibit please contact Adela.

¡ NO CAGES !

NO CAGES_SANDY_ALISON_ANA_DSC7214
SANDY | ALISON | ANA

¡ NO CAGES !


[1] John and I approached sound as a vital component of this project but one which challenged us and gave us pause. We felt it inappropriate and overwhelming to simply re-record the cries of caged-children, even if into a mix with other sounds. John listened to and combined field recordings by Adela, some of his own recordings, and the cries of caged children circulating in mainstream media. He focused on the noise of wind which forms the baseline against which other sections of frequency-time-space are stitched together, and worked to create a kind of “quilt” of frequency-time-space. John’s sonic quilt mixes all of the recordings together in combinations that are not simply cuts in time but also cuts in the frequency range of the sounds. He took care to craft and curate the sounds as recognizable but also as re-constructed and clashing. His “quilting” approach is especially appropriate given what we have learned about caged children lying in cages under discomforting emergency thermal blankets. John’s sound quilt can be experienced sonically as an imperfectly patterned construction. This sonic-quilting method provides a mixture of abstraction and reference that places the cries of the coyotes, birds, and children into a relationship with each other while refusing the naturalization or the kind of off-handed “orchestration” that la migra unempathetically make light of in the recording. This mix is composed as a practice of refusal to hear crying as simply a “part” of the landscape. It attends to displacements and containments that borders and cages produce. It’s pain happening, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s also not simply demanding empathy but asking that we reimagine our listening. It is a call to action.

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