Art21: Borderlands

Rafael Salazar Moreno, Ava Wiland | Documentary

2020 | 60 minutes | United States

Five acclaimed artists create ambitious public artworks, photographs, sculptures and performances during one of the most divisive moments in the history of the U.S. and Mexico border.


A vast geography encompassing open deserts and densely populated metropolises, the borderland between the United States and Mexico has long been a site of not only political conflict and social struggle but also intense creative ferment. Taking a new curatorial and filmmaking approach, Art21: Art in the Twenty First Century connects and juxtaposes a group of acclaimed artists as they work along the U.S.-Mexico border, interweaving their stories to chronicle the creative responses to one of most divisive moments in the history of this area. From an epic interactive searchlight installation along the El Paso–Juárez divide to a deeply personal performance at the Tijuana border wall, these artists consider the border as an open wound, a theatrical stage, a political podium, a studio, and a contradictory landscape that features both ugliness and beauty. This episode explores how contemporary art can reveal the new and unexpected, asking viewers to question their preconceived notions of a place seemingly made familiar by mass media. Ultimately, the artists featured in this film, Tanya Aguiñiga, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Richard Misrach, and the Postcommodity collective, challenge themselves and audiences to embrace a more empathetic view of one of the most contested areas in North America.

Main credits

Wiland, Ava (film director)
Wiland, Ava (film producer)
Salazar Moreno, Rafael (film director)
Lozano-Hemmer, Rafael (on-screen participant)
Misrach, Richard (on-screen participant)
Aguiñiga, Tanya (on-screen participant)
Moore, Okema T. (narrator)

Other credits

Cinematography, Rafael Salazar Moreno; editor, Rafael Salazar Moreno, Russell Yafe; music, Joel Pickard.

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DIRECTOR: Rafael Salazar Moreno, Ava Wiland

NATIONALITY: United States

YEAR: 2020

GENRE: Documentary


COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: Upper Elementary School, Middle School, High School, College, Adults



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