The crossing between Rio Grande Village in Big Bend National Park and the village of Boquillas in the Mexican state of Coahuilla was closed in May of 2002, part of a shutdown of traffic across the US-Mexico border in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Despite the efforts of a number of activists to re-open the crossing in the style of automated facilities like those found on the US-Canada border, the port of entry at Boquillas stayed closed, fueled in part by the debate over immigration and the explosion of violence elsewhere in Mexico.
As a result, Americans were forced to forgo tacos and beer after a day of hiking or rafting in the park: An idyll documented most famously by Robert Earl Keen on the titular song from his 1994 album, Gringo Honeymoon:
Meanwhile the residents of Boquillas were left without access to groceries or the basic educational and medical resources that they had come to depend on from their American neighbors in Rio Grande Village on the other side of the knee-deep river. While RGV is a few short hours on well-maintained roads from Terlingua, Presidio, Marfa and Alpine, the nearest Mexican town to Boquillas — Melchor Muzquiz — is five hours away on rough dirt tracks. The nearest port of entry between Ojinaga and Presidio is at least a 10 hour drive.
The tourist dollars that were the backbone of the local economy disappeared and Boquillas’ population shrank from 300 to just under 100 people, turning the already impoverished village into a harsh laboratory for many of the ideas explored at the first Marfa Dialogues in 2011, namely a demonstration of the the effects of strangling long-established cross-border exchange between neighbors and families.
That changed on April 10, 2013 when, after years of delays, the crossing re-opened as an automated class-B port of entry. Hundreds of Americans made the trip over to Boquillas in the month that followed. Here’s our primer on the coverage the crossing has received since then:
“Our story begins here, at Manhattan’s East Village, at a small club called Plant Bar. Inside, you’ll find James Murphy, a 32-year-old musician, DJ and sound engineer who believes his chance of success has already faded from view. Little does he know he will go on to form LCD Soundsystem, one of the most popular and loved bands of the decade.”
Great mini-documentary about DFA Records, home to our pals YACHT, LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, The Juan Maclean, Nancy Whang, Black Dice, Sinkane and many more. Now I just want to listen to DFA bands all night and dream about taking over James Murphy’s exquisite life (cruises, peanut butter, fedoras, tuxedos). All hail DFA! Long may you run.
(Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out which LCD Soundsystem song is our favorite, how we ordered The Rapture’s “House of Jealous Lovers” Insound Tour Support Series Vol. 9 back in 2001, and our secret, mildly passionate history with Hey Dude.)
As I Went Out One Morning at Storm King is “the first large-scale presentation” of Thomas Housesago’s work. As part of the documentation of this monumental undertaking, the Los Angeles-based sculptor took part in a wide-ranging Q&A with Nora Lawrence, including some interesting observations on his time in Marfa as artist-in-residence with Aaron Curry.
“I was included in a residency at the [Marfa] Ballroom. Me and Aaron Curry were doing a show together. Something about being out there in West Texas, and yet you’ve also got this massive figure of [Donald] Judd there. Anyone going to Marfa is either filming a movie or going to see Judd. And me and Aaron were processing a lot of weird stuff. I had met Aaron very early on in my life in L.A. We were removed from our life in L.A., put in this desert with Judd–so that kind of brought out this extreme behavior in both of us that was very, very alcoholic. We were drinking from morning ‘til night and in this weird room in Marfa. I think what I was doing was processing all these pieces that I had kind of hidden. I was making a series of felt works almost as this kind of degenerate behavior, almost like going back to being a kid. We were sort of acting out all these kind of weird arguments like we we’re kids, like getting mad at each other…it was an odd thing. That really was like a long, drawn-out performance. And the “felty”—I was making it with glue, just like when you’re a child you’re doing these crafts. The desire that both me and Aaron had was that we were going to do that show, then destroy a lot of that work—just light it up, boom, move on. You can almost say Judd is the end of something. And we were playing out this thing of being infantile, young artists messing with this whole idea of Judd, this shining example…”
“Never panic,” Mr. Sanders announced. “That’s pretty critical. Sparks are flying. It’s loud. People get into trouble from overreacting to the sparks. Don’t be self-conscious about an idea, that’s another one. Things take place right beyond your comfort zone. And right beyond that is injury or death.”
May 2 – May 26, 2013
Opening: May 2, 6-8PM
Karthik @ Vilma Gold
This exhibition is co-presented with CineMarfa, an annual film festival in Marfa, TX that foregrounds the intersection between film and visual art. Please visit cinemarfa.org for their complete 2013 schedule.
“The video piece Uhura (Tanka) (2012) stars the author Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts playing Nyota Uhura, the United States of Africa–born communications officer aboard the USS Enterprise in the original Star Trek series. Leigh recalls time spent as a child watching Star Trek and patiently waiting for Uhura to speak: “I had to deal with the conundrum that she mostly repeated one line,” she remembers. The Uhura in Leigh’s piece also remains silent, dutifully pressing buttons and congenially smiling. Nichelle Nichols, who played the original Uhura, holds an unsung but significant place in African American history and is often cited as one of the first black female television characters in the United States that wasn’t a domestic worker. On November 22, 1968, during the episode “Plato’s Stepchildren,” Nichols and her co-star William Shatner performed American television’s first scripted interracial kiss. While it could be easy to miss the significance of this in something as banal as Star Trek, Nichols recalls that when she was thinking of quitting the show, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told her, “[Uhura] is not a black role or a female role. You have the first non-stereotypical role on television. You have broken ground…We look on that screen and we know where we’re going.”