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Watch video – San Francisco art gallery to show multiplatform exhibit about immigration

Posted by Elena del Valle on March 7, 2008


Artist Victor Cartagena 

Photos: Victor Cartagena 

Galería de la Raza, a San Francisco art gallery, will present a large-scale installation by Salvadorian artist Victor Cartagena March 7 through May 16 about the spiritual, dramatic, and human dimensions of migration. Cartagena’s solo exhibition, The Invisible Nation, will include sculptural works, video and sound installations, and a 10 foot by 24 foot public digital mural to be displayed at the gallery’s Bryant Street billboard in the highly trafficked Mission District corridor. Scroll down to watch a video from The Invisible Nation exhibit.

As part of the show there will be an artist talk featuring Cartagena and Roberto Varea, director of El Teatro Jornalero and chair of the Performing Arts Program and Social Justice Center at the University of San Francisco.


Somos Nosotros, part of The Invisible Nation exhibit

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Cartagena’s installation will be based on video and photographic portraits of immigrant residents, as well as photos from the 1970s and 1980s from Latin American archives that the artist has collected over the years. The exhibition will explore the evocative power of the characteristic black and white passport photos frequently used in Latin America to identify individuals in official documents and obituaries.

Through his work Cartagena explores public health, labor, education, family history, cultural adjustment, displacement, language, memory, loss, and survival. Through these lenses, the artist hopes to explore and articulate visually multiple aspects of the immigrant experience, to lead the viewer to understand the harsh reality met by immigrants upon entering the United States. Cartagena’s installation seeks to counter the dehumanizing and reductive representations of immigrant issues in the media.


One of items of The Invisible Nation exhibition

In The Invisible Nation, the artist responds to the unresolved discussion on immigration policy and to the rising tide of an anti-immigrant sentiment across the country. Cartagena aims to prompt, through his installation and public art components, a discussion on the complexity of immigration.

The Invisible Nation is part of Picturing Immigration, a series of exhibitions and public events examining immigration from Latino perspectives, funded by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation and the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Founded by a group of local artists, Galería de la Raza emerged from the Chicano civil rights movement in 1970. The gallery’s mission is “to assertively self-define the evolving values, aesthetics, and history of Latino art and culture.” It supports Latino artists in the visual, literary, media and performing art fields seeking to explore new aesthetic possibilities for socially engaged art.

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