Bod­ies, Bound­aries, and Bor­der­lands: The Work of Fi­den­cio Fi­field-perez and David Tay­lor

The Iowa Review - - CONTENTS - Jen­nifer Colville

The to­pog­ra­phy of the land be­comes the to­pog­ra­phy of the body in the work of Fi­den­cio Fi­field-perez and David Tay­lor. Both artists in­ves­ti­gate the psy­chic and phys­i­cal bor­der­lands of the United States and Mex­ico through dif­fer­ent ap­proaches. Tay­lor’s work at first reads as ob­jec­tive and panoramic, with straight­for­ward im­ages of the land, the ma­chin­ery, and the peo­ple of the bor­der­lands. Perez, on the other hand, mines his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence as a DREAMER, with dream­like col­lage and the in­ti­macy of per­sonal ob­jects. Yet, in both artists’ work, the dis­tinc­tions be­tween the in­ti­mate and the panoramic, the body and the sys­tem, start to shift and blur. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Perez writes, “The mo­ment I was smug­gled into this coun­try at the age of seven, my body ceased to be my own.” In Perez’s work, bod­ies are made of lay­ered maps, claimed by their mul­ti­ple ter­ri­to­ries. The bro­ken lines hold­ing fig­ures to­gether are both frag­ile and vi­tal, snaking through limbs like veins. In some im­ages, maps morph into na­tive icons or fences, im­agery that sug­gests both the pos­si­bil­i­ties and lim­its of mixed cul­tural iden­tity. In “Clan­des­tino,” the bare body inked with Me­soamer­i­can iconog­ra­phy flaunts its oth­er­ness. This self-map­ping reads as a de­fi­ant ges­ture within a sys­tem where im­mi­grants like Perez must re­port to the gov­ern­ment ev­ery two years to be put through a se­ries of bio­met­ric mea­sure­ments. In his most re­cent work, Perez trans­forms en­velopes from his cor­re­spon­dence with im­mi­gra­tion agen­cies into small paint­ings of pot­ted cacti and suc­cu­lents. The plants de­picted are his own—re­minders of home that he and his part­ner bring with them on their trav­els. The en­velopes ref­er­ence ex-vo­tos, re­li­gious paint­ings made to cel­e­brate mir­a­cles. In this case, the mir­a­cles are those of the art it­self. The small paint­ings cel­e­brate the art of mak­ing a home within one’s art—a home as por­ta­ble as a pot­ted suc­cu­lent, a home that must sur­vive up­root­ing. Next to Perez’s work, David Tay­lor’s se­ries of pho­to­graphs Work­ing the Line seems to pan out­ward and back. His forty-two pho­tos record life in U.s./mex­ico bor­der­lands, from San Diego/ti­juana to El Paso/juarez. In an in­tro to the work, Tay­lor tells us the bor­der­lands are al­ready un­der con­stant sur­veil­lance “with ap­pa­ra­tus that range from sim­ple tire drags (that erase foot­prints al­low­ing fresh ev­i­dence of cross­ing to

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