52 *Border Patrol : yazan khalili

Border Patrol (2014)
2 paintings and voice over - Marfa / Texas

During a summer school in Marfa/Texas in June 2014, we visited the border patrol headquarters in the town, there the PR officer showed us the tactics and polices the border patrol officers use to control the borders. But he totally refused to speak about his political views or politics in general when asked about the immigration policies in the US and in the world in general.

There, in the meeting room where we had this discussion, a huge painting (10’ x 4’) by Roberto Rios was on the wall, showing a border patrol officer looking through his binoculars into a vast landscape that contains a native American, a Spanish conquistador, and a Mexican bandit which are trying to cross the borders. The painting shows a striking political point of view of the role of the border patrol, by showing a clear division between the White European Texans and the rest of the people on the other side of the border. (Please refer to the image attached).

In the research I made, I found out the artist of this painting was commissioned to paint another mural to be painted on one of the border patrol walls, but it was rejected for content and political reasons. (I also attach the rejected sketch).

In this work I try to convey the political views of the border patrol by juxtaposing the border patrol “apolitical” discourse with the politics embedded in the details of this painting. Working with this painting as a space where hidden political discourses can be exposed.

I managed to interview and record the PR officer about what he sees in this painting as an act of revealing the political discourse which such an executive body claims it doesn’t have.
In this work I show a live size copy of the painting printed and hung on the wall.Fixed inside it a video of the rejected sketch with a voice over of the PR officer speaking about the painting hanging at the border patrol headquarters. Such juxtaposition brings out the political structures of the border patrol without directly speaking about them.

The work consists of:
1-a live size print out of the painting found at the Marfa Border Patrol headquarters.
2-A zooming out video of the rejected sketch with a voice over of the border patrol PR officer speaking about the existing painting.
3-The video will be played from a small screen fixated on the printed out image, with headphones.