The Red Tape Labyrinth; Immigration Meditation, was a site-specific participatory art installation and performance space presented on the sidewalk on West 14th Street at 10th Avenue in Manhattan from October 6 through 9, 2016.
Facing the Hudson River, and visible from the High Line Park bridge above, this walkable labyrinth recalls that migrations continue to be risked on foot and over water. The project speaks to the global immigration crisis and also seeks to contextualize the media’s focus on international migrants and refugees and American immigration policies within a historic framework that includes the so-called “Great Migration” of six million African Americans northwards within the United States. Immigration, perceived as a critical issue in international and national politics, as well as a global humanitarian crisis, is paradoxically also part of the foundational narrative of an America built on the hard work and success of immigrants to the “New World”, while at the same time excluding those non-Europeans forcibly brought over and held as slave laborers.
Outlined in red duct tape, the Red Tape Labyrinth; Immigration Meditation imagines a clear path through the bureaucratic “red tape” usually confronting migrants and immigrants for years and decades. The title also recalls the ancient Greek myth and the red thread that Ariadne gave to Theseus to mark his route back out of the labyrinth after slaying the Minotaur at its center.
The Red Tape Labyrinth; Immigration Meditation installation invited passersby to walk, dance, stride, or toddle along its single spiraling path and to physically and contemplatively engage with experiences of pilgrimage, passage, and migration on foot. Audiences were encouraged to write their thoughts, experiences, and hopes onto the path using the chalk provided.
Musicians, dancers and performance artists were invited to engage with the installation and invited audiences to consider the political dimensions and meditative qualities of a labyrinth walk.
This installation was selected for presentation in the Art in Odd Places Festival – with “Race” as its 2016 theme. This event aims to stretch the boundaries of communication in the public realm by presenting artworks outside the confines of traditional public space regulations, and reminds us that public spaces function as the epicenter for diverse social interactions and the unfettered exchange of ideas.
Art for Change – Hacia Afuera
East Harlem, New York City, August 28–29, 2010
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