Review: “Border” — PDNB

[Originally published in The Dallas Morning News]

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Missy Finger has curated a controversial show that explores the pathos surrounding Mexican emigration and, like all good art, it doesn’t preach. It simply presents an array of images that are riveting. No matter what your politics may be, this is impressive work composed of photographs that include panoramas of scruffy terrain, wrenching shots of bedrooms in Juarez’s “Boy’s Town” and hair-raising clashes with Mexican Federales.

Montoya’s panorama, “Road to Aztlan,” alludes to a quest for an idealized northern homeland of the Azteca people. It embodies risks taken to attain a better life and gives the ambitious enterprise a mythic, ancient context. An obvious corollary is a broader and deeper understanding of media coverage regarding emigration.

Silverthorne shows us interiors and female figures that invoke the cold reality of rough trade. “Room, Acuna” depicts scarred walls, a moribund plant, a painted crucifix and, of course, a bed made to be unmade. It’s a quintessential personification of fatigue, defeat and desperation.

Teun Voeten’s “Juarez” is a mashup of gaudy magenta and purple lights with an automatic weapon in the foreground. It’s a reminder of the rampant existence of an underworld defined by death and violence. Taken as a whole, “Border” is hardly a cheering exhibition. However, it’s important one. It’s no sunny idyll and that’s precisely what makes it good. It’s “in your face” and it’s a courageous move on the part of PDNB.

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