Alternative Futures: Las Imaginistas
Las Imaginistas work with the community in Brownsville, TX to explore the impact of colonial history on the city's architecture and infrastructure. Their project Hacemos La Ciudad (We Make the City), through workshops, performances, and visioning sessions, provides an opportunity for Brownsville residents to imagine and enact a decolonized future along the southern border.
Woman: Brownsville is on the southernmost tip of Texas.
It's sort of wedged in between the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico,
and right across is Matamoros.
It's a binational space. It's bilingual.
Guevara: I think about this idea of, like, migrants
really being the experts of dreaming.
And we're kind of following that legacy.
[ Applause ] Houle: Thank you so much.
So our project that we're presenting to you all
is a project that we made in collaboration
with over 200 members of the city,
where we've engaged with them
in a practice of dreaming and asking what it is
that we want to see for the future of our region.
Houle: The city was named the lowest income city
in the United States.
We're also in the heart of the immigration crisis.
Guevara: Seeing that border wall every day,
it's a strong image of hate and violence.
How does the border wall impact our consciousness?
How does the architecture in a space
impact my perception of myself?
And how does it also dictate to me what I think is possible
and what I think is not possible?
The history of the region is very much framed
around the colonizer,
and it ignores and erases everything that comes before.
Guevara: We collected objects.
We invited people in the community to donate
what we called"chucherías," objects
that were kind of laying around in their home.
Houle: And then the way that those objects are painted
and arranged is representative of the different ideas
that people had about what the future of the region
would look like.
We worked with three communities.
We think of the city as one community.
We think of artists, thought leaders, academics,
nonprofit leaders as another community.
And then we think of individuals
working to make change in their neighborhood
as a third community.
If you're going to think about
how to change a geography, it has to take into account
the implications of everyone in that geography.
We heard people wanting
to see the built environment reflect them,
people wanting to see streets named after cultural leaders.
People are craving more spaces
of gathering to build community.
Like, the traditional plaza.
What we heard from residents was that they wanted
to have more opportunities for ideas
and people to move back and forth between the two sides.
You can see we have many different bridges
where people can cross freely from one country to the other.
This is a currently vacant building.
And one of the things that we imagined
was that this would be a mixed-income housing space.
It's not just imagining.
It's imagining an action.
It's imagining and change.
It's imagining and reimagining.
Asking the question of "How do they want to respond?
How do we want to respond?"
We are so grateful to have with us
some of the actual community members
who participate in these sectors.
With everything that's going on,
especially all the construction downtown,
there's concerns of our community.
Houle: We could list for hours
the number of community development problems
any individual here is experiencing.
The people who came to the event today, miraculously are people
who are working nearly 24 hours around the clock
to respond to different urgent needs of the community.
They took the time out of their day to come to this art event
because it is relevant to them.
Together:Uno, dos, tres.
[ Cheers and applause ]
Being able to imagine and kind of dream
of something better is a crucial part of the work.
Houle: If the community says what we need art to do
is to make change, then that is art.
And that is the community defining art on their own terms,
understanding what it means to live in extreme poverty,
what it means to live in a part of the country
that is being expressly ignored by the federal government.
If you want art to include those communities,
then you have to ask those communities,
"What does art mean to you?"
More Episodes (16)
Alternative Futures: Las ImaginistasNovember 09, 2020
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Cultural Identity: Rulan TangenOctober 12, 2020
Cultural Identity: Ronny QuevedoOctober 05, 2020