Contingent Perimeters explores the tangled relationships between people and infrastructure in the context of the United States–Mexico border through the work of six contemporary artists: Yaritza Flores Bustos, Gloria Martinez-Granados, Hillary Mushkin, M. Jenea Sanchez, David Taylor, and Alex Turner.

By examining the border’s history as well as its contemporary dependence on technologies and apparatuses of control, these artists complicate static understandings of the U.S.–Mexico border. Instead, they offer more expansive perspectives on the border, reframing it as an assemblage of institutions, ideologies, infrastructures, and technologies.

The artists in this exhibition visualize both the networked structure of the modern U.S.–Mexico border and its impact on immigrant life. Hillary Mushkin considers early and contemporary classification databases created to map and subsequently control the U.S.–Mexico borderlands. Similarly, Alex Turner explores how surveillance at the border is animated through a matrix of people and technologies. Photographer David Taylor documents the extensive detention and surveillance infrastructure used by private prison corporations and the U.S. Border Patrol to manage migration.

Other artists explore how the expansive reach of the U.S.–Mexico border organizes immigrant life. Multi-media artist Gloria Martinez-Granados considers the ways in which the infrastructure of citizenship restricts how undocumented immigrants navigate American institutions. M. Jenea Sanchez records personal conversations with individuals whose lives are entwined with both sides of the border. In a deeply personal performance, Yaritza Flores Bustos reflects on the knotted relationship between the border and the precarious lives of noncitizens. Collectively, these artists inform a more complex understanding of the U.S.–Mexico. They urge us to consider the implications of its increasingly dispersed structure and to re-evaluate what is at stake for those enmeshed in its network.

Contingent Perimeters is curated by Alexis Herrera.



Contingent Perimeters is curated by Alexis Herrera. This exhibition is supported by the Jonathan and Lizzie Tisch fund at the University of Michigan Museum of Art. It was developed as part of the Guest Instagram Curator Program. To see the Instagram exhibition and learn more, please click here.