Artist’s statement: migration
In 2006 I left the US for a job in rural France. That began my migration.
Like other immigrants, when my first visa elapsed I found ways to remain. Like other immigrants, I loved some things about the places I lived, disliked others. Like other immigrants, I encountered systems interpersonal, structural, educational, informal, formal, and legal that required me to compromise my senses of difference and of self in response to interpersonal and institutional demands for assimilation. Unlike immigrants of color, Black immigrants, immigrants from the Global South, and Muslim immigrants, I generally did not suffer for my immigrant status unless I chose to—chose to speak the language in my own voice (however badly or well!), asserted solidarity with other immigrants, refused certain kinds of work, refused certain kinds of assimilation. Perceptions of my ‘goodness’ were often bound up with what others assumed about my whiteness, my fluency, and my family connections, benefits of the doubt I rarely saw extended to immigrants as a category.
Living as an immigrant in France, the UK, and Belgium formed my artistic practice as well as providing subject matter for it. My practice became a way of caring for, attending to, and documenting my everyday life—external and internal. This close attention to very circumscribed landscapes became a way of pushing back against the flattening expectation of assimilation. I could record the facts of my legally stipulated boredom and isolation (while waiting for papers, I was not permitted to work or go to school) and the facts of the beauty and dailiness I perceived while waiting. In the garden and at my desk, I never had to show my papers. These places were a respite from the intense visibility of borders and governmental buildings. Making art reaffirmed my ways of seeing as real against a background of others’ different, dominant seeing. Now that I once again live in the US (2020), I continue to make work about migration. This new work is an attempt to come to terms with what it has meant to lose my right to remain in places I once lived and traveled through with some freedom, and with what it means to have lost places—a garden, a house, a country, a language—I made my own.
Artist’s statement: locality