SILHOUETTES - SILUETAS

This is a traveling exhibition in constant development. Human silhouettes covered with original stories of migrant people: photos, documents, poems, personal letters...
Silhouettes have been shown in several cities of the USA and El Museo de la Ciudad de México.

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SILHOUETTES - SILUETAS

Silhouettes began in Richmond, California. The idea came from an invitation I received from Artchange to create an installation in a place accessible to the public. Artchange focuses on social work, education, health and art for minorities and the immigrant community in Northern California; therefore, these groups had to be involved in the project.

I proposed an installation of four silhouettes of people walking in the same direction, carrying their most valuable possessions that they insist on not leaving behind. These figures are made of ¾ inch plywood, the measurements ranging between one and two meters high to achieve perspective, depending on the position and distance from each other.

The silhouettes are fully covered with personal letters received from migrants’ country of origin, identification cards, documents, photographs in color or black and white and handwritten stories about the reasons that forced them to leave their motherland – anything on paper that could help to tell their own experience as migrants.

In order to get all this material, I had to organize several conversational workshops to talk about migration with community members in Richmond. After the first workshop, I realized that it was necessary to have a professional psychotherapist as a moderator since the stories of some activated traumas in others. The images apparently forgotten suddenly started surfacing: traditional food, music, tears and jokes, stories of a lost love, poems, etc. After sharing thoughts, feelings and memories, I asked each participant to write their stories on paper, which I had collected from old notebooks affected by time. Some of the people wrote their stories during the meeting, while the others preferred to do that in a private environment and mail them to my address later.

Another way to collect material from the community was walking the streets with the highest population of Latin Americans, entering shops and restaurants. To explain about Silhouettes, I used small-scale models of these human figures inviting people to participate in the project with their own stories. Finally, I made a video of interviews with some participants. This video is full of all kinds of feelings, so I decided to avoid the audio so that spectators could complete it with their own stories as migrants.

Since the first time I exhibited in Richmond, this installation has been shown in San Francisco, at MACLA in San Jose, CA, Museo de la Ciudad de México, and it was part of a group show in Spain. In order to continue collecting stories, I always leave a mailbox in the gallery as part of the installation so that visitors can share their experiences either as those who had to leave or as those who had to stay.

In 2016, I created my 5th sculpture. However, my dream is to have an installation of 20-25 silhouettes in many different languages and continue to travel with this project in various countries.