The Westmoreland Museum of American Art Presents Border Cantos | Sonic Border

Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo examine the Mexican-American border through image and sound.


GREENSBURG, Pennsylvania (May 5, 2021)
 – From May 30 through September 5, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art presents an immersive and timely exhibition about the Mexican-American border. Border Cantos I Sonic Border is a unique collaboration between American photographer Richard Misrach and Mexican American artist/composer Guillermo Galindo, who respond to the physical and psychological divide between the U.S. and Mexico through an exhibition that blends photography, sculpture, sound, and found objects. Border Cantos | Sonic Border is organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas with additional loans from the artists.

Border Cantos | Sonic Border arose from a chance encounter in San Francisco in 2011, when Misrach attended a performance by Galindo in which the latter presented an original composition played on instruments he constructed from objects found at the Mexican-American border. The following year, the two artists started working together.

Misrach originally began developing Border Cantos in 2009. While photographing near the border, he noticed increased surveillance and military presence due to the expansion of the border fence. Since then, he has photographed along the entire length of the border and captured its diverse styles of fencing, as well as the landscapes, and the communities, the fence traverses. Misrach’s large-scale photographs beautifully capture the various textures and experiences found across the almost 2,000-mile dividing line. By showing moments of disruption on the land, they also introduce a complicated look at the policing of the boundary.

Like Misrach, Galindo’s works are landscapes, but they are meant to be heard rather than seen. From footsteps on rocks to the buzzing of drones overhead, the borderland has its own soundtrack. Using a unique combination of Western music experimentation, world folk music, and avant-garde sculptural practice, Galindo’s compositions evoke the journey through this landscape.

Galindo’s installation Sonic Border is an original score for eight instruments, created out of discarded objects found and collected at the border, many of which Misrach found and sent to him. The composition embraces the pre-Columbian belief in the intimate connection between an instrument and the material from which it was made, with no separation between spiritual and physical worlds. Based on the Mesoamerican “Venus calendar,” Sonic Border plays for a total of 260 minutes and is separated into 13 cycles of 20 minutes. Within these cycles, the instruments play in small groups of two or more, or all together as an orchestra. The exhibition will feature two additional sculptural works on loan from Galindo, Exterminating Angel, 2015, and Zapatello, 2014,  that were also  created from found objects discarded near the border.

When experienced as a whole, the large-scale photographic images, found-object sculptures, and emanating sounds of the composition create an immersive space in which to look, listen, and learn about the complicated issues surrounding the Mexican-American border. As Galindo states, “We want to give people the experience of the border, and to get acquainted with the immigrant’s journey. To make it palpable. To make it human.”

Visitors will be invited to share their stories of movement or migration on a map in the exhibition, and public programming will provide opportunities for meaningful community dialogue. For a full list of the programs associated with the exhibition, please see below or visit thewestmoreland.org/events.

In addition, Other Border Wall Project will present a virtual exhibition and podcast series for The Westmoreland highlighting their work on borders locally and nationally throughout the duration of Border Cantos | Sonic Border. Other Border Wall (OBW) is a creative resistance that rejects borders by building community, bridges and connections through art.  Pittsburgh and Southern Virginia-based OBW is an award-winning, multicultural team of creative women: designer and writer, Tereneh Idia; designer and artist, Leah Patgorski; and artist Jennifer Nagle Myers.

Admission to The Westmoreland is free with advance online registration currently required. The Museum’s operating hours are Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm. One can find information on registering for a visit and the Museum’s COVID-19 safety policies and procedures at thewestmoreland.org/visit. For more information about The Westmoreland, please call 724.837.1500 or visit thewestmoreland.org. For information on ways to connect with the Museum through virtual experiences, please click here.

Support for this exhibition has been provided by Art Bridges, the Hillman Exhibition Fund of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and Opportunity Fund.

Border Cantos I Sonic Border Public Programs at The Westmoreland:

MAY
Friday, May 28 > 7pm
Virtual Sonic Border Performance and Q&A with Artist Guillermo Galindo*

Saturday, May 29 > 10am–5pm
Museum Members’ Preview Day for Border Cantos | Sonic Border

JUNE
Wednesday, June 16 > 7pm
Virtual Screening: Art21 Borderlands

Wednesday, June 30 > 7–8pm
Virtual In Conversation: Photographer Richard Misrach and Chief Curator Barbara Jones*

JULY
Thursday, July 29 > 6–7:30pm
The History of the Mexican-American Border, (1848-Present) with Associate Professor of History, Pilar M. Herr, PhD
Virtual Lecture 1: 1848-1965: Creation, Politics, Economics, Immigration and Society

AUGUST
Thursday, August 5 > 6–7:30pm
The History of the Mexican-American Border, (1848-Present) with Associate Professor of History, Pilar M. Herr, PhD
Virtual Lecture 2: 1965-1990s: Immigration, Society, and NAFTA

Saturday, August 7 > 6pm
Border Cantos Dinner with Community Kitchen Pittsburgh*

Wednesday, August 11 > 7pm
LatinX and Proud! Virtual Reading Series

Thursday, August 12 > 6–7:30pm
The History of the Mexican-American Border, (1848-Present) with Associate Professor of History, Pilar M. Herr, PhD
Virtual Lecture 3: 2000-Present: 9/11, Fences, Security, and Subsequent Border Concerns

Friday, August 13 > 6pm
Mother Sauces: Virtual Cooking Class with Community Kitchen Pittsburgh*

Monday, August 16, 23, & 30 > 6:30–7pm
Virtual Landscape Photography Workshop with Photographer Brian Cohen

To register for and find out more information about these programs, please visit thewestmoreland.org/events.

*Art Bridges has provided support for these programs.

About The Westmoreland Museum of American Art:
Western Pennsylvania’s only museum dedicated to American art, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, is a place to share meaningful cultural experiences that open the door to new ideas, perspectives and possibilities. The Westmoreland’s extraordinary permanent collection, with its strong focus on the art and artists of Southwestern Pennsylvania, is complemented by an impressive temporary exhibition schedule featuring both nationally traveling exhibitions and those organized by the Museum. Additionally, The Westmoreland presents a full slate of community-oriented programming as well as special events. More information is available at thewestmoreland.org and on the Museum’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

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