In yesterday’s initial post about the MCASD-SDMA-Timken joint “Behold, America: Art of the United States from Three San Diego Museums” exhibition, I noted that one of the reasons the show(s) had the potential to be more than a grab-bag was San Diego’s geopolitical neighborhood: It’s part of a two-country metropolitan area that includes Tijuana. With a population of 5.3 million, San Diego-Tijuana is the largest bi-national metro area shared between the U.S. and Mexico, and the third-largest such metroplex in the world.
You might expect something about that to pop up in contemporary art, and you’d be right. Between 1992 and 2005 San Diego was home to one of the most interesting biennial-ish projects in the world: inSite, a semi-ennial that took the border as its subject and raison d’etre. (Example of work shown at inSite: Javier Telléz’s One Flew Over the Void, in which a man was cannonballed over the border fence and Francis Alÿs’s The Loop, for which Alÿs circumnavigated the globe in order to avoid the US-Mexico border.)
You might also expect MCASD’s collection to include art that addresses the bi-nationality of its metro area (and in a way far more thoughtful than you’d see from immigration-hostile — if not Mexicans-hostile — conservatives), and it does. Included in “Behold, America” is Triptych, Migration Path (below), a super piece by San Diego/Tijuana artist Iana Quesnell. Migration Path is a three-part, large-scale drawing which maps the artist’s physical movement through the bi-national landscape, specifically her public-transportation journey from her home in Tijuana to her former studio in La Jolla. The 20-mile trip typically took Quesnell many hours to complete. Migration Path is a detailed overhead account of that journey. Quesnell’s triptych did something that conservatives are loathe to do: To consider, let alone address, the human consequences of our militarized border with Mexico.