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Crossing Borders in the Digital and Flesh: monica enriquez-enriquez!

Crossing Borders in the Digital and Flesh: monica enriquez-enriquez

To continue in the Queer and Feminist New Media Spaces fun, Ive conducted a series of blog interviews with artists, activists, and scholars engaging with new media and its myriad of intersections. The first HASTAC blog interview features artist and activist, monica enriquez-enriquez! monica is a queer Latina, born and raised in Colombia and has an M.F.A in the Digital Arts and New Media from University of California Santa Cruz. For monica, art is a site for community activism, and a locus to question institutional oppression.  As demonstrated by her installation, fragments of migration, monica enriquez-enriquez complicates narratives of migration, sexuality, and citizenship, and provides vital representations for and around queer asylum.


How does your art question, and engage with New Media?  

enriquez-enriquez: I graduated in 2008 from the UCSC Digital Arts and New Media Program. When I started the program and throughout my two years there I questioned and tried to grapple with the concept of New Media and the buzz around digital technologies, interactivity, online communities and participatory culture. I questioned and still do, the power of online and digital arts because of issues of access and marginalization.  

What are you strategies of building community through digital media art?  

enriquez-enriquez:  Since the work I do tries to engage with queer migrants and is a community art based practice, I feel like it is more productive and political to build those communities in flesh rather than online and to create artwork that is more accessible. But it is a constant struggle and the viewer/participant can decide for themselves what this piece is able to do and what are the borders or obstacles that need to be crossed.

What are the physical, technical, and artistic locales of fragments of migration?

enriquez-enriquez:  fragments of migration is a Spanish-English video installation that incorporates audio interviews with four transgender women from Mexico and one lesbian from El Salvador involved in the U.S. asylum process. Three screens with rear projection serve as dislocated frames that show representations of loss, asylum and institutional violence through interactive engagement with the audience.  

The audio is constantly playing but the screens do not display video and only "perform" when an audience member stands nearby.  The interaction with the screens invites the audience participants to interrogate their tacit approval of the normative narratives required of queer migrants and the violences inherent in the asylum process.  

How might your project engage with queer theory and identity politics? Could you speak on the theoretical framing of your installation?  

enriquez-enriquez:  I argue that this project creates a productive tension between a politics of disidentification, a politics of affect, and a politics of representation by way of a two-fold intervention through digital media technologies (video and audio). First, it produces a "disidentity" based on Jose Esteban Munoz's argument for anti-identitarian identity politics in which commonality is fashioned "from connotative images that invoke communal structures of feelings (dislocation, loss, melancholia, mourning, nostalgia)"  Second, I engage in a participatory art-work that emerges from a set of collective concerns, dialogs, conversations (avoiding therapeutic healing and confessional models) and its framed around Ann Cvetkovich's idea of "emotions as public feelings 

enriquez-enriquez: This project aims to channel attention to such emotions and to place them in a public sphere so that they have the potential to become political. Instead of making such emotions invisible and pathological, to place them in this public context is to claim them as sites of resistance. That is, these emotions made public can serve as a common point to resist oppression, racism, state violence, xenophobia, and queer phobia as a community or as a set of communities coming together.

One of the objectives is to create a cultural production that is determined by marginalized subjects and to create a collective counter-narrative to the insitutionalized one produced by the Department of Homeland Security, which is invested in particular narratives of citizenship, trauma and sexuality.

What are some questions fragments of migration is grappling with?  

enriquez-enriquez:  Some questions include: How can digital media technologies be mobilized in order to enable communities of color, queer communities, queer migrant communities and other marginalized communities to represent themselves? What are the limitations and possibilities of participatory culture? How do and can "marginalized" cultural productions destabilize traditional forms of representation and contribute spaces for collective dis-identification?  XO



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