Texas Border Piece, 20239 drawings, 1 single channel video projection, black & white, silent, 7 min 44 sec
Texas Border Piece captures a charged moment along the Texas-Mexico border, where U.S. Border Patrol Agents encountered Haitian migrants making their way to the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. It unravels the poignant scene of a group of migrants, seeking to deliver food to their families near Del Rio, Texas, facing violent resistance from agents on horseback. Claerbout was struck by the seemingly faux-pictorial, tableau-ish appearance of these particular press images* that were issued at the time of the event in 2022, which was in stark opposition to the disgust of the incident and the conventions of photojournalism.
Texas Border Piece consists of a series of nine drawings complemented by an accompanying film projection. The succession of images culminates in a view of the Rio Grande's landscape, prompting a somewhat uncomfortable transition in our focus from the brutal confrontation to the tranquil embrace of nature. It is here that a solitary tree emerges as a silent witness. Symbolizing the destination and aspiration of the refugees, Claerbout uses the motif of the tree to forge a unity in space, eliminating the spatial divide between the left and right bank of the river and its political equivalent.
* by Paul Ratje and Felix Marquez a.o.