Forbidden Boundaries

5 May - 26 June 2022

Filo Sofi Arts is proud to present Forbidden Boundaries, a series of art installations, art performances and philosophical dialogues in response to human rights violations regarding border justice and migration control practices. Curated by Gabrielle Aruta and Moises Salazar Tlatenchi, Forbidden Boundaries is a lens offering a more humane look at discriminatory lines of demarcation at our borders, in the art world, as it relates to plans for environmental restoration, and protection from uses of AI and surveillance. Critical thinking, slow looking at art, and the Socratic dialogue are tools employed to foster bi-national solidarity, not only for Mexican/American relations but for all neighboring nation states. 

Beginning with a presentation in San Diego, at the 2002 John Dewey Society conference on the theme of border justice, applied ethicist and Filo Sofi Arts’ gallery owner, Gabrielle Aruta facilitated a Community of Inquiry utilizing a body of sculpture by the artist, Moises Salazar Tlatenchi, called Cuerpos Desechables. The aim of this philosophical exercise in art appreciation was for attendees to achieve a perception informing aesthetic experience with the sculpture series depicting vulnerable migrant bodies in the form of piñatas. 

Attendees analyzed Salazar Tlatenchi’s work in a practical application of John Dewey’s philosophy of education through a methodology designed to help people identify their values. It is Filo Sofi Arts’ belief that through the interaction with works of art people are better enabled to empathize with, and unpack some of the trauma, related to the harrowing narratives of non-documented immigrants and unattended children attempting to come to the U.S

The installation juxtaposed the decorative and festive elements of a traditional pinata with the desperation and pathos of parents risking their lives to bring their children to America. Photos from the documentation of the installation crystallize the human desire for safety from harm.  These sculptures are on view at San Diego’s Centro Cultural de la Raza until May 22nd

As a complement to their presentation, Salazar Tlatenchi and Aruta brought one of the Cuerpos Desechables sculptures on a photo documentation tour of the heavily militarized town of San Ysidro. San Ysidro is on the California border where the US meets Tijuana, Mexico, this photo documentation project honors the bi-national indigenous Kumeyaay people whose land was taken from them by an artificial border disregarding the 1000s of years of seasonal hunting and gathering patterns practiced by these Fronterx peoples, and draws attention to unfair refugee policies affecting people from around the world trying to gain refugee status in the US, such as Title 42. 

The second iteration of Forbidden Boundaries brought Filo Sofi Arts to Marfa, Texas in conjunction with the Marfa Invitational weekend where co-curators Gabrielle Aruta and Moises Salazar Tlatenchi created a multidisciplinary group show about border justice that was generously hosted by the Marfa Open Arts gallery, a historic train depot turned non-profit, creative project space. 

In its Marfa manifestation, Forbidden Boundaries addresses the physical, mental and spiritual thresholds people cross for freedom, familial obligation and the desire for safety and authenticity. This curatorial debut between Aruta and Salazar Tlatenchi features eighteen artists from around the globe including Hungary, Britain, Barbados, and Colombia, along with artists of Mexican American, Canadian-American and North Korean heritage. They are:

Noah Becker, Kimberly Camp, Elvia Carreon, Daieny Chin, Alanis Forde, John Foster, Ana Garcés Kiley, Samantha Joy Groff, Anthony Haden-Guest, Haylie Jimenez, Sydnie Jimenez, Blake Hiltunen, Juan Arango Palacios, Moises Salazar Tlatenchi, Kenny Schachter, Brigitta Varadi, Gabrielle Vitollo, Akilah Watts

The exhibition included spoken word performances of The Secret History of Modern Art, Volume One by Anthony Haden-Guest, a photography documentation project by Salazar Tlatenchi in Big Bend National Park called Nińx, about unattended minors crossing the border, born from the artist’s anxieties around their family’s immigration lineage. The exhibition also featured a  spiritual happening performed by the artist, Elvia Carreon within the rushing waters of the Rio Grande on the Ocampo Flora and Fauna Protection area just over the border in Mexico to honor a recently deceased family member lost to the harsh elements during an attempted crossing.  

As a final event for its Marfa pop-up, Filo Sofi Arts will host an evening of philosophical dialogues in response to the art of Moises Salazar Tlatenchi and Kimberly Camp at Planet Marfa on Thursday, May 19th at 7pm. Designed for art industry folks and locals alike, the evening will spark discussion about the long proposed El Carmen Big Bend Complex which has the potential to restore the Rio Grande's riverbed, protect the biodiversity of the desert and provide further infrastructure to deter organized human smuggling and environmental destruction. The event is free, but Filo Sofi Arts kindly requested donations for a Land Tax that was later evenly distributed and paid to the three local indigenous tribes to honor the traditional ancestral territory of the Jumano Nation, Lipan Apache, and Mescalero Apache peoples, past and present.