11/05/2018 Phillips Museum of Art

Hostile Terrain by Lucy Cahill + Jason De León + Michael Wells

Dana Gallery
January 24–April 25, 2019
Reopening for May 4 & 11, 2019

Hostile Terrain is a multimedia installation focused on different sensory engagements with the complex (and often ambiguous) world of clandestine migration. It builds on anthropological data collected by the Undocumented Migration Project, a decade long research endeavor that uses archaeology, forensic science, ethnography, and visual anthropology to understand the violent social process of border crossing between Mexico and the United States. Highlighting the discomfort that comes with knowing that there is no easy resolution to our global humanitarian migration crisis, Hostile Terrain both translates and transforms anthropological data into a sensorial experience while challenging the viewer to avoid the overly simplified analogy of the heroic/tragic migrant.


About the artists:

Lucy Cahill is a Detroit-based visual artist with a background in curation and art history. She is interested in methods of curation that shape the larger conversation about issues in the current political landscape, and bear witness to underrepresented issues and populations. Her personal work uses an illustrative approach to explore ideas of femininity and feminism, power and the body.

Jason De León is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He directs the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a long-term anthropological study of clandestine migration between Mexico and the United States. De León is the author of the award-winning book The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail (featuring photos by Michael Wells) and a 2017 MacArthur Foundation Fellow.  

Michael Wells has served as primary photographer for the Undocumented Migration Project since its inception in 2009. He has photographed the project’s ethnographic and archaeological fieldwork in Arizona, New York, Mexico, and Ecuador. A Los Angeles-based photographer, he has created photography projects on post-Katrina New Orleans, the physicality of the US Mexico border in Arizona and California, and Latino communities in the American South.


Hostile Terrain by Lucy Cahill + Jason De León + Michael Wells is organized by the Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin & Marshall College and proposed by Kostis Kourelis, Associate Professor of Art History and Department Chair of Art and Art History at Franklin & Marshall College. Funding for the exhibition and its related programming has been supported in part by the Richard C. von Hess Foundation Collaborative Residency in Art History. The Common Hour Talk has been sponsored by Franklin & Marshall College's Art and Art History, Anthropology, Earth and Environment, Government, International Studies, Latin American Studies Departments and the Phillips Museum of Art.



Common Hour talk by Jason De León, The Land of Open Graves: Understanding American Politics and US/Mexico Border Enforcement through the Lives and Deaths of Migrants, January 24, 11:30 a.m. in Franklin & Marshall College’s Mayser Gymnasium, followed by a 1 p.m. reception at the Phillips Museum of Art

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