Erika Harrsch: Under the Same Sky … We Dream
August 10 – September 29, 2017
Under the Same Sky … We Dream is a video and sound installation by artist Erika Harrsch. Harrsch has a history of creating interdisciplinary and participatory projects that explore the topic of immigration, particularly between Mexico and the United States. Under the Same Sky focuses on children who cross borders, both with and without their families, and highlights the conditions of immigrant minors both at the border and within the United States. At the center of the piece is an oversized screen showing a double-sided time-lapse video of the sky filmed between El Paso TX and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. Beyond the screen visitors encounter dozens of thin green plastic sleeping pads with silver emergency mylar thermic blankets such as those used in temporary detention centers for unaccompanied minors dotted along the US-Mexico Border. The installation is accompanied by a soundtrack with phrases extracted directly from the DREAM Act of 2011 sung by internationally acclaimed Mexican singer Magos Herrera.
The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) was a bipartisan legislation first introduced in the Congress in 2001, reintroduced several times, though never passing formally into law. This bill aimed to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented children who grew up in the United States, (a multi-phase process that would have granted conditional residency and expanded access to higher education, and, upon meeting further qualifications, a pathway to permanent residency.) Since 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has provided a two-year renewable reprieve from deportation and eligibility for work authorization to more than 750,000 unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children, a group that has come to be known as the Dreamers.