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Postcommodity arts collective

Video by Art21.

The interdisciplinary collective Postcommodity creates site-specific installations and interventions that critically examine our modern-day institutions and systems through the history and perspectives of Indigenous people. Influenced by growing up in the southwestern United States, the artists Cristóbal Martínez and Kade L. Twist revisit their 2015 public installation, "Repellent Fence," produced with previous Postcommodity artist, Raven Chacon. A two-mile-long line of enormous balloons across the Arizona-Sonora border, "Repellent Fence" symbolically sutured together cultures and lands that had been unified long before borders were drawn. Shown installing ambitious architectural interventions at the Art Institute of Chicago and LAXART in Los Angeles, Martínez and Twist consider how American cities have been supported by and will continue to be transformed by the migration of Indigenous peoples from Mexico and Central and South America. To examine our cultural institutions and their demographic future, the pair thinks of the coming decades, when the U.S. Census Bureau predicts a non-White majority. “Our job is to allow a new public memory to be born,” says Martínez. “Here’s our lens; take a look at the world through it, and tell us what you think.” Other featured projects include "Do You Remember When?" (2009), produced in collaboration with previous Postcommodity artist Raven Chacon (2009–2018), co-founder Steven Yazzie (2007–2010), and co-founder Nathan Young (2007–2015).

Learn more about the artists at: https://art21.org/artist/postcommodity/

CREDITS | Executive Producer: Tina Kukielski. Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Directors: Rafael Salazar Moreno and Ava Wiland. Producer: Ava Wiland. Editors: Rafael Salazar Moreno and Russell Yaffe. Director of Photography: Rafael Salazar Moreno. Production Services: RAVA Films. Assistant Curator: Danielle Brock. Associate Producer: Julia Main. Post-Production Coordinator: Alexandra Lenore Ashworth. Design & Animation: Momentist, Inc. Composer: Joel Pickard. Additional Music: Amalia Mondragón. Advising Producer: Ian Forster. Additional Art21 Staff: Lauren Barnett, Lolita Fierro, Joe Fusaro, Meghan Garven, Jonathan Munar, and Emma Nordin. Additional Photography: Elan Alexenberg, Robert Biggs / Phoenix Drone Pros, Gina Clyne, Adrian Gutierrez, Nick Kraus, Christoph Lerch, and Alejandro Almanza Pereda. Tijuana Field Producer: Yadira Avila. Location Sound: Ariel Baca, Jacob Bloomfield-Misrach, Nikola Chapelle, Michael Cottrell, Rayell Abad Guangorena, Veronica Lopez, Baili Martin, Nathalie Piché, Chris Tolan, and Ava Wiland. Production Assistants: Ben Derico, Jake Grossman, Jacquelin de Hoyos, Keira Kennedy, Zac Settles, and Jorge Villarreal. Digital Intermediate: Cut + Measure. Post-Production Producer: Alex Laviola. Colorist: David Gauff and Jerome Thélia. Post-Production Sound Services: Konsonant Post. Re-Recording Mixer & Sound Editor: Gisela Fullà-Silvestre. Online & Conform: David Gauff. Additional Animation: Andy Cahill. Assistant Editor: Jasmine Cannon, Jonah Greenstein, and Mengchen Zhang. Translation: Ava Wiland and Russell Yaffe. Video Quality Control: Jonathan Hansen. Artwork Courtesy: Tanya Aguiñiga, Guillermo Galindo, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Richard Misrach, Postcommodity / Cristóbal Martínez & Kade L. Twist, Bockley Gallery, Fraenkel Gallery, Pace Gallery, and Volume Gallery. Past Postcommodity Collaborators: Raven Chacon (2009–2018), Steven Yazzie (2007–2010), and Nathan Young (2007–2015). Public Relations: Cultural Counsel. Station Relations: De Shields Associates, Inc. Legal Counsel: Barbara T. Hoffman, Esq. Interns: Shane Daly, Grace Doyle, Eda Li, Daniela Mayer, Jason Mendoza, Nikhil Oza, Anika Rahman, Ana Sanz, Sara Schwartz, Victoria Xu, and Sadie Yanckello. Postcommodity Artwork: "A Very Long Line," 2016. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Director’s Discretionary Fund, Russell Cowles and Stuart & Kate Nielsen. Major underwriting for Season 10 of "Art in the Twenty-First Century" is provided by PBS, National Endowment for the Arts, Lambent Foundation, The Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Toby Devan Lewis, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Henri Lambert, Nion McEvoy & Leslie Berriman, and Sakana Foundation. Series Creators: Susan Dowling and Susan Sollins. ©2020 Art21, Inc.
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Video transcript

[percussive music] - It's looking pretty good out here. - It's looking good. This could be our opportunity. - Yeah, I think this is it. - The piece is called "The Repellent Fence." What we are proposing to construct is a two-mile monument that crosses the border. - I'm sorry, um, forgive my ignorance. What you guys are talking about is another fence on the border? - It's almost to flip the script or to complicate the way we understand fences. - When I look at the borderlands, I see a clear demarcation of colonization. That's the underlining meaning of that border. - If the word "Mexican" in this country is synonymous with "alien" and "illegal," we've forgotten the indigeneity of those people. - People can't remember what it means to be American, not United States citizen. American as in of the Americas. - Indigenous peoples of this hemisphere have had to bear genocide, but they also mixed with Spanish settlers and families. I am a product of that. I grew up in North Central New Mexico, where the communities were all indigenous Pueblos. My ancestors are native American Pueblo people and Chicanos, Mexicanos. - I grew up three hours from the border. - I'm the son of a Cherokee plumber in a town that was largely defined by migrant farm workers. You saw indigenous people everywhere, whether you've been anglicized or Hispanicized. - Two more would be for sure. - Okay. - Postcommodity was born for the purposes of doing "Repellent Fence." That was our first idea out of the gate. That idea started in 2006. Our whole art practice was built out during that time. - The idea of the balloons is to intersect the U.S.-Mexico border that signified a suturing or connecting of the Americas together. - In indigenous cultures, this eye means a open eye. An eye that's aware, an eye that's knowledgeable. - This work is testimony that the indigenous people presupposed this hard-edged border. Suturing is remembering. - And healing. - And reasserting one's place on the land. - The border wall, it's a very long line. But what is the border really doing? It's like a corral. It's trapping Americans more than anything. It's fencing us in. - At the same time, indigenous peoples continued moving northward, marking the new journey, the new migration. - So what does it entail? Like... - It'll be 8 of the 12 pounds when it's filled all the way down to the bottom. - Okay. - And the remaining pounds will get filled 3 feet down. And what those will do is those will hold the additional rebar that will stick up out of the top of the tower. - And that'll take a day, right? - That'll take all day. So we'll be here. - Ten years ago, I met these guys at the Arizona State University Art Museum. They had a slab of the concrete floor cut and mounted on a pedestal. And then they suspended a microphone over the earth beneath and had a speaker with a native Pee-Posh ceremony being played at a very low volume. So as you walked in, you weren't sort of struck by the sound until you got a little bit closer. [faint music playing] The project was very related to the land literally beneath the museum, and that was burial, um, grounds. They seemed to always be able to find something very interesting about the site where they were working. I was really interested to see what they might think about in the context of Chicago. - Wow. - It's pretty sick to watch. - Yeah. - You know, it's like a little dance. - After building the "Repellant Fence," we started thinking about our future demographically here in the United States. The U.S. Census projected that 2043 will be the year that white people in the United States become a minority. Here in Chicago, we're in the middle of one of the largest migrations of peoples from the south to the north. A lot of people think of Chicago as being ground zero for the great Black migrations. This is even larger in scale. There are currently over 750,000 people in the county who are of Mexican descent. And that number is growing and will continue to grow. So the expectation is that the landscape is gonna be transformed culturally, politically, socially. We wanted to build a piece to mark that this transformation is happening, this migration is happening. [light music] - Throughout all of Latin America, you oftentimes will find these columns that are projecting off the rooftops of homes, and a lot of times, people who are not from Latin America misinterpret the meaning of those columns. They think that the homes aren't finished. - [speaking Spanish] - What the columns often signify is a pragmatic approach to growth. As the family expands, the home expands. And so the house is always growing, always emergent. - This piece and the skyline that surrounds it, it's a way to acknowledge a very strong Mexican cultural tradition being established here in Chicago... And that cultural transformation also happened a long time ago in California. [tool buzzing] So we wanted Los Angeles to inform the next project. - You're like the... [speaks Spanish] Of low-riding or custom or rod. - [laughs] - Doing what I do for a living is I build people's dream car or you know, their bucket list car. And I know the stereotype is, like, the bouncing Impala. Everybody's thinking "Boyz n the Hood," uh, "Friday," but it's deeper than that. Come on through; I'll show you the rest of shop. - Low riding, it's about hacking the car, reimagining the car as mobile sovereign space. And we have always imagined ourselves and fashioned ourselves as hackers. Chicanx people, they have been able to develop themselves in the city through this process of modifying and salvaging and recycling. Every car is a story. You know, Chicanos are the pillars of the city. We want to build new public memory about LA. - So the way we're gonna set this up is we want to run, like, a mid to late '70s style graphic. - Yeah, just wait till we get all the colors on here. That's when it really explodes, you know. [upbeat music] - Similar to what we're doing in Chicago, in LA, we're taking the architecture, the very bones of the building, and we're hacking it. - Putting in polyester primer, and block... - Working with Postcommodity, it was about self-expression, helping us expose low riders to a different audience. For us to be able to leave a mark in a permanent structure that my grandkids will probably see someday, it's very empowering. - These I-beams are like the indigenous people, like the Latinos that have built LA, right? That everybody walks by them day in, day out. We don't notice the guy who was selling elotes at the corner. We don't notice the guy who was cutting our lawn. But it's part of the infrastructure. It is part of the strength that makes the city what it is. Move your hand! - [laughs] - The beauty of us working together... It's incredibly powerful. all: Salud. - We feel that in order to have a world, we need to divide ourselves from one another. - How are you? - Good. But it's that love we get to experience oftentimes when we're making art together, that sort of restored in a lot of ways our faith in humanity. Our self-determination is proliferating. We're starting to find our way in places that we wouldn't otherwise be in. - We've made the covers, which are cedar boxes, so that those columns are being preserved. They'll be there permanently with that building. Columns that no one will see, but at certain times of the year, those cedar boxes will be opened up and taken off to acknowledge that history of a people and a community. - When people of color become the majority, I hope we'll have built enough dignity to be good stewards of one another, of each other, of ourselves, of the land. Postcommodity isn't an identity building project. Our job is to provide space for people to connect their own narratives of cultural self-determination and to allow a new public memory to be born. [soft music]