My sonic de­vices tell me how they want to speak. I al­low them to say what they want to say and what they can say. They have lots of pos­si­bil­i­ties and also lots of lim­i­ta­tions, be­cause they are very raw in­stru­ments. — com­poser Guillermo Galindo

Pasatiempo - - RANDOM ACTS - The New York Times, Bor­der Cantos Ar­ti­facts, Agua, Tar­get Prac­tice, Ef­fi­gies de car­tu­chos can Cantos Ef­fi­gies Bor­der Ropó­fono Piñata Tonk

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Galindo said. “The ab­sence of the own­ers of the items who make my in­stru­ments com­ple­ments Richard’s hu­man-less space. The imag­i­na­tion of the viewer or lis­tener then cre­ates the story.”

The story cer­tainly in­cludes death. Some of the ar­ti­facts one sees along the nearly 2,000-mile bor­der most likely be­longed to in­di­vid­u­als who have made good lives for them­selves in the U.S., but the own­ers of other items did not last long walk­ing north through the deserts of Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona, New Mex­ico, and Texas. A May 4 story in “A Path to Amer­ica, Marked by More and More Bod­ies,” said the Bor­der Pa­trol doc­u­mented 6,023 mi­grant deaths be­tween 2000 and 2016. The wall and fence sec­tions that cur­rently ex­ist — much of them built as a re­sult of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s 2006 Se­cure Fence Act — are dra­matic ad­di­tions to the landscape when seen through Mis­rach’s lenses, but do lit­tle to deter pas­sage. Bor­der Cantos re­pro­duces a still from Roy Ger­mano’s 2009 film The Other Side of Im­mi­gra­tion, in which two teenage girls are shown climb­ing to the top of a bor­der wall in less than 18 sec­onds. “You can go over the wall re­ally fast,” Mis­rach said. “Let’s just say you can ef­fi­ciently build a huge wall like the Great Wall in China — but even big­ger, from San Diego to Texas — then the drug car­tels will fly things in. They will bribe peo­ple. I’ve heard sto­ries that I can’t give the source of. On the Cal­i­for­nia bor­der, the wall goes into the ocean. Peo­ple go visit fam­ily three times a year and they take a Jet Ski around and they give the Bor­der Pa­trol agent $3,000.

“With money, you can find a way to do it. They sling a base­ball filled with mar­i­juana over. I found a doll’s head with a rope at­tached that they ob­vi­ously had filled with drugs. We’re spend­ing bil­lions of dol­lars for this se­cu­rity and it doesn’t work. It’s not an ef­fi­cient way to deal with the prob­lem. Work­ers are com­ing over be­cause there are jobs here and as long as our econ­omy needs them, they will find a way to get here. Drugs are the big­ger is­sue and as long as the U.S. is buy­ing, they’ll find a way. If we could fig­ure out a way to con­trol the drug prob­lem here, we’d put the car­tel out of busi­ness.

“The wall is just a small ob­struc­tion. It’s a po­lit­i­cal spec­ta­cle, that’s all it is. What a waste of tax­payer re­sources that could go to ed­u­ca­tion, to­ward in­fra­struc­ture, to­ward fight­ing ter­ror­ism.”

is quite a doc­u­ment of the bor­der­wall habi­tat. The scope of the work can be rather over­whelm­ing, and the viewer ap­pre­ci­ates Mis­rach’s di­vi­sion of the work into cantos (photo suites). Among them are which ze­roes in on the bar­rels of wa­ter that are placed in the desert by hu­man­i­tar­ian groups;

the cloth­ing, back­packs, tooth­brushes, and other de­bris left by mi­grants; pho­tos of Bor­der Pa­trol tar­gets and the messes of spent shells on the ground; and one named af­ter the that Mis­rach en­coun­tered near the Cal­i­for­nia-Mex­ico bor­der. These are scare­crow-like fig­ures made of mi­grant cloth­ing on agave stalks that could be warn­ings or cre­ative sculp­tures or epi­taphs or signs of protest — nei­ther their mak­ers nor their pur­pose are known.

Like most of Mis­rach’s pho­tographs, the works are stun­ning in their clar­ity, even when they’re pre­sented as huge prints. Asked about his equip­ment, the photographer said one photo in the book dates to 2004 and was taken with an 8 x 10 view cam­era; for many decades this was the in­stru­ment of choice when you wanted to ren­der your sub­ject in crisp de­tail. But ev­ery other photo in

was taken with dig­i­tal cam­eras. “Some of the prints in a mu­seum trav­el­ing ex­hi­bi­tion are 12 feet long and were shot with a medium-for­mat Has­sel­blad dig­i­tal cam­era. The qual­ity has sur­passed the 8 x 10 now. And a lot of the ar­ti­facts I shot with my iPhone. I’m able to work with the iPhone in places like the Bor­der Pa­trol shoot­ing range, where I could get in and work fast and get re­ally ad­e­quate im­agery. That was fan­tas­tic.”

Mis­rach be­came aware of Galindo’s project of mak­ing mu­si­cal in­stru­ments out of hu­man bor­der de­tri­tus in 2012, and af­ter that he would some­times bring Galindo items that he found on his wallpho­tog­ra­phy ex­pe­di­tions. In his text for the book, the com­poser writes about the “in­ti­mate con­nec­tion be­tween an in­stru­ment and the ma­te­rial from which it was made” in the pre-Columbian world, along with the idea that “Me­soamer­i­can in­stru­ments were tal­is­mans be­tween worlds.” Ac­cord­ingly, his sonic de­vices are all about the or­ganic: Their ma­te­ri­als and sounds are of the same cloth. His was de­signed to am­plify the sound of a loop of dis­carded cloth­ing as it turns on a loom­like de­vice. The

is a large shaker in­stru­ment based on a soc­cer ball found along the bor­der and with shot­gun shells har­vested from a Bor­der Pa­trol shoot­ing range fas­tened by small chains as noise­mak­ers. And is a trum­pet made from a Bor­der Pa­trol flash­light; it is named for a deroga­tory bor­der-agent name for mi­grants, based on the sound of a flash­light hit­ting a head.

The sounds made with these in­stru­ments can seem min­i­mal­is­tic and chaotic, but Galindo em­pha­sized that he is al­low­ing them to have their own voices. “My sonic de­vices tell me how they want to speak. I al­low them to say what they want to say and what they say. They have lots of pos­si­bil­i­ties and also lots of lim­i­ta­tions, be­cause they are very raw in­stru­ments. You have to sit down with them and be­come their friend. Once you do that, you will find how they talk and what they want to say.”

He can be heard play­ing some of them at www .bor­der­can­tos.com. And what’s go­ing through his

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