On April 6, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy for the southern border, instructing the criminal prosecution of any adult who crossed the border illegally. It also led to separations of children from their parents which captivated the nation’s attention for weeks. Now, months after the policy was ended by executive order, artist and activist collective Sin Huellas seeks to keep the issue in the spotlight with its installation piece “Detention Nation.”
The exhibit, residing in the Landmark Arts gallery in the School of Art until Dec. 15, depicts the many immigration detention centers that house undocumented immigrants awaiting criminal trials.
Designed to elicit strong emotions and reactions, Michael Marbach said he experienced the power of the exhibit immediately after seeing it.
While he had heard about the detentions during the media swarm covering them over the summer, most of the details were lost on him, Marbach, a freshman majoring in creative media industries, said.
While pictures and videos of the centers made their rounds on social media, it could still be hard to really see what the detainees were going through, he said.
“When I first walked in, I saw the figures and how they were laying, and all the beds and writing too. It all just made me uncomfortable,” he said.
The figures he mentioned are person-shaped casts made of a shiny, tinfoil like material. All are arranged into various prone positions, from sprawled out to fetal, meant to represent the immigrant detainees in the centers.
Sin Huellas makes no mystery of its political notions, which inspired the creation of the installation. Criticism of the policy that led to these detention centers is inherent in the art, but blatant in the exhibit’s description.