Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo Document the Atmosphere Around the U.S. Border with Mexico in Exhibition at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art

Release date: 
June 20, 2016

Border Cantos: Richard Misrach | Guillermo Galindo on view October 15–December 31, 2016

FORT WORTH—Heralded photographer Richard Misrach and innovative artist-musician Guillermo Galindo examine the border between the United States and Mexico through a revelatory, humanistic lens in an exhibition at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art beginning October 15. Border Cantos features 44 monumental landscape photographs of the border by Misrach alongside 18 handcrafted musical instruments created by Galindo from found objects recovered from the border (e.g., a shoe, a backpack, a drag tire). The exhibition also includes a sound installation by Galindo, who has written original compositions for his sculptural instruments. Border Cantos is both a cross-disciplinary exploration of the U.S.-Mexico border and the artists’ “song” about the atmosphere in this contested zone. It will be on view through December 31; admission is free.

“The upcoming presidential election provides a perfect backdrop for considering the issues surrounding the U.S.’s southern border,” says Andrew Walker, director of the Amon Carter. “What better way to do it than through the eyes and ears of two internationally renowned artists.”

Misrach has been photographing the American landscape for more than 40 years. In 2009, he turned his attention to the construction of the border fence, cutting across the grand expanse of the southwestern desert. In images that are simultaneously romantic and trenchant, he looks at both the environmental and social impacts of the border. Misrach worked with a high-definition digital camera as well as his iPhone as he followed the traces of human presence that punctuate the landscape. When Misrach heard Galindo (a U.S. citizen born in Mexico City) play a concert using instruments constructed of discarded items found along the border, he reached out to the musician, and the two artists began to collaborate. Misrach started collecting discarded objects—clothing, children’s toys, Border Patrol drag tires, spent shotgun shells—that he encountered during his photography shoots along the border. Galindo then used these items to construct musical sculptures, writing scores and even composing a symphony based on them.

Galindo is an experimental artist-composer whose work is influenced by the avant-garde musical traditions of John Cage and by contemporary cultural and political events. He often bases his instrument constructions on indigenous musical instruments from around the world. For example, a discarded food can becomes the resonating chamber of an instrument modeled on a single-stringed Chinese erhu. Empty shotgun shells are strung together to create a variation on a West-African shaker. Other instruments have a historical role. A shoe, glove and drag tire become a crank drum inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s mechanical device, called il martello a camme.

“This unique blend of Misrach’s photographs and Galindo’s sculpture and music offers a powerful summation of the fraught atmosphere along our country’s southern border,” says John Rohrbach, senior curator of photographs. “This show reveals not only the look of the border landscape but shares its human dimension.”

A 274-page hardcover publication of the same name with 257 full-color images published by Aperture accompanies the exhibition and is available for $75 in the Museum Store. The publication was made possible, in part, with generous support from Andrew Brown and Kristen Wolfe, Bruce and Sharyn Charnas and the Lannan Foundation.

Border Cantos: Richard Misrach | Guillermo Galindo was organized by the artists in conjunction with participating museums.

After closing at the Amon Carter, Border Cantos travels to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Ark., on view February 18–April 24, 2017.

Art Discovery: Lost and Found Family Workshop
October 22, 10:30 a.m.

Border Cantos Artist Lecture and Performance
November 5, 10:30 a.m.

Richard Misrach
An internationally recognized photographer, Richard Misrach is renowned for his powerful explorations of the environmental, social, and political consequences of human intervention in the landscape. Through much of his career, the artist has focused on the American West and Southwest, though he also has completed series in other parts of the United States, Europe and beyond. Inspired by the great poet Ezra Pound, he has embraced the cantos structure for many projects, presenting these series as subsets of a longer song cycle about contemporary life. These projects include the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge seen from the Berkeley Hills or the uneasy atmosphere inscribing the corridor along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, home to more than 135 industrial plants and refineries. Born in Los Angeles, Richard Misrach received a BA in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1971. His numerous awards include three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1977, 1984, 1992); a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1979); a Eureka Fellowship, Fleishhacker Foundation (1991); a Lucie Award for Achievement in Fine Art (2008); and the David Brower Center Art/Act Award (2013). His work has been shown nationally and internationally in solo exhibitions at International Center for Photography, New York (1975); Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris (1979); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1983); Oakland Museum of California (1987); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1996); San Jose Museum of Art (1998); Art Institute of Chicago (2007); New Orleans Museum of Art (2010); University of California, Berkeley, Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2011); and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta (2012). More than 25 books and monographs have been published on Misrach’s art. His work is included in the collections of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas; Art Institute of Chicago; Australian National Gallery, Canberra; Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Oakland Museum of California; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; San Jose Museum of Art; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Guillermo Galindo
Guillermo Galindo is a composer, performer, and sound architect who reconsiders the conventional definitions of music, sound art, and musical composition. His interpretation of musical form, timing, notation and sonic archetypes and his use of inventive sound-generating devices are hallmarks of his art. His compositions have been performed at major festivals and concert halls in the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia. From symphonic works and acoustic chamber compositions to live performance art, his work spans the domains of music and the visual arts, computer interaction, electro-acoustic music, opera, film, instrument building, installation, and improvisation. Galindo received his BA in film scoring composition from Berklee College of Music, Boston, in 1989, and his MA in music composition and electronic music from Mills College, Oakland, California in 1991. His numerous awards include a residency at Banff Centre for the Arts, Alberta, Canada (1999); a California Arts Council Composers Fellowship (2000); a Creative WorkFund Media Arts Grant (2003); a Sistema Nacional de Creadores composition grant (2005–2008); and an Artistic Innovation Award from the Center for Cultural Innovation (2011). His work has been performed at the Hong Kong City Festival (1999); Bourges Electronic Music Festival, France (2000); Arte Sonoro Festival at the Roy and Edna/Cal Arts REDCAT Theater, Los Angeles (2004); Sound Symposium, Newfoundland, Canada (2006); and Festival RADAR, Mexico City (2009). Galindo’s media and sound installations and instrumental compositions have been performed at and by the Orquesta Filarmónica de la UNAM, Mexico City (1996); Oakland Museum of California (2003); Oakland East Bay Symphony Orchestra, California (2006); Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City (2007); Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (2011); and Zellerbach Playhouse, Berkeley, California (2014). He teaches sound design, performance, and electronic media at California College of the Arts, San Francisco.