IN photographer Richard Misrach’s 13 years of taking pictures along the United States-Mexico border, he has seen all kinds of landscapes and fences and detritus. “The artifacts you see have a lot of different explanations,” he said by phone from his home in California’s Berkeley Hills. “Basically people have walked a long way from Central America and Mexico, and their clothes are filthy, and they often dump them after they’re across the border, because they bring fresh clothes with them. Also the Border Patrol has been known to make people dump whatever they have when they find them. You see backpacks and tennis shoes, religious icons and Bibles, and all kinds of things strewn along the border.”
In the 2016 book Border Cantos (and an accompanying exhibition that opens at Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, on June 28 and hangs through Aug. 18), Misrach’s photos are presented alongside instruments created from border artifacts by California experimental composer Guillermo Galindo. His Teclata “keyboard” has a base made of Border Patrol ammunition boxes and finger-operated keys that activate found objects: empty bottles, cans, and a plastic cup. Ángel exterminador (Exterminating Angel) is a gong made from a twisted section of steel border wall suspended from a wooden frame. Galindo made two instruments from a bicycle that reportedly was run over by the Border Patrol to sabotage its use for transportation.
“Combining Richard’s images with my sounds provides information of a place or a circumstance where everything is possible, even death,”
Teclata, 2014, opposite page, Wall, Nogales, Arizona, 2013; all images from Border Cantos, Aperture, 2016, © Richard Misrach; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, Pace/MacGill Gallery, and Marc Selwyn Fine Art