Nature and culture inspire Mariposa Land Port artworks
By Drew Jack
When the modernization and expansion project wraps up at the Mariposa Land Port of Entry in August, pedestrians and drivers will be treated to more than new walkways and increased lanes.
GSA commissioned two Art in Architecture installations at the busiest crossing between Arizona and Mexico – one inspired by the natural landscape of the Southwest and the other portraying the social and cultural landscape of neighboring communities with international borderlines between them.
Moore's hovering artwork begins in the interior space of the Pedestrian Processing Area and
extends approximately 96 feet along the length of the outdoor walkway.
Matthew Moore is a fourth generation farmer as well as an artist. His past work includes large site-specific earthworks on and around his family’s land, which highlight the grounds on which the urban and rural collide and compete. The majority of Moore’s art practice deals with landscape and how it defines and directs society.
In the Southwest, the boundaries of our notoriously flat terrain are framed by massive mountain passages. His creation Passages takes its shape from the nearby Baboquivari Mountains running north-south towards the border.
The trellis-like sculpture is located above the primary pedestrian exit and pathway. The sculpture, which begins approximately five feet indoors above the exiting doorway and extends above the pedestrian pathway, beckons the pedestrian outdoors to the walkway. The monumental sculpture depicts the abstracted topography of an inverted mountain range. The blue acrylic circles placed along the aluminum egg-crate like sculpture denote the idea of a pathway through the mountains.
Moore’s choice of using unfinished natural materials for the installation means zero maintenance. Letting the materials patina over time is integral to the design of the project.
An Album: Sewing into Borderlines
Internationally known artist Kimsooja is using an outdoor LED screen to project panoramic video
portraits of community members who live with the daily reality of commuting across the border.
Kimsooja gained notoriety in the mid 1990s following one of her most famous video-graphic pieces to date, Bottari Truck. Through subsequent combinations of performance, video and installation, the artist has further developed the abstract concept of bringing together people, cultures and civilizations.
Filmed in Nogales in 2013, An Album: Sewing into Borderlines consists of silent video portraits of community members who live with the daily reality of commuting between both countries. The portraits show each individual in three different positions: facing the viewer, facing away, and turning back towards the viewer. These poses represent the individuals’ journeys through past, present and future.
"In these three distinctive postures I see both a physical and psychological borderline,” said Kimsooja in her final concept proposal. “I believe the Mariposa Land Port of Entry could serve as an example to bring cultural understanding and positive interaction between the two countries by sharing the emotions, memories, and aspirations we all have in our lives."
The figures facing the camera suggest arrival/encounter, whereas those same figures facing away from the camera evoke departure/separation. The artist provoked the action of turning back towards the viewer by calling the name of each individual during filming, offering the opportunity to re-enter the memory of a reality left behind.
The new-media work of art and its position at the border crossing ask the viewers who pass beneath it to do the same – to look back over their shoulders and reflect on their own personal, interior journeys.
GSA has more than 75,000 works in our Fine Arts Collection. Later this year (Fall 2014), we will be launching a new site that will allow everyone to research and see many of these pieces. Curated galleries will include examples of artworks like the two featured in this article installed at U.S. Land Ports of Entry, and New Deal art.