Overflow and Breaking; Fluidity and Structure in Migration



The image represents the interplay between mobility/fluidity, and structure in the urban city-space in respect to the formation of new migrant communities and how migration can break down, transcend, and reconstruct the general structure of the city. Direction, weight, and magnitude can be observed interacting with solid barriers and cells, as fluidity opposes and redesigns structure.

Specifically, this artwork is inspired by the division between San Juan de Miraflores and Santiago de Sucre, known infamously as the “Wall of Shame”. The structure of the wall— a common sight throughout Lima around wealthy properties, company lands, and university campuses— divides the city into segments by socioeconomic status and prestige. In the image, I used wood barriers to delineate and segment grey cells, enclosed by the wooden walls. These cells are scattered around the image, and represent the constructed space within the city by displaying small glimpses into in city’s structure. These cells are the buildings and streets that form the city’s topography, depicted as a grey space that signifies Lima’s grey cityscape and matches the surrounding walls. However, I chose to separate these grey city cells to present how the city itself is constructed and impermanent, despite how solid its structures appear. The cells are suspended in a mysterious purple background to depict how communities like Santiago de Sucre were manufactured and that Lima is constituted of similar impermanence.

Interweaving throughout the cells is a moving and twisting image of fluidity. This form represents migration, which, much like water, flows wherever it is pressured or where it must. I painted this blue migratory water in a way that displays intense force and direction as it grows, dissipates, and repeats throughout the cells. Its presence in several cells presents how migration coexists with the city structure, interacting in the same space much as how migrant groups occupy the same areas, and participate in the same markets as “original” residents in “original” structures. However, the force of migration isn’t simply contained in these cells. Fluidity emerges above the walls as represented by the ceramic mix. I mixed ceramica en frio, talco, y pegamento to create a texture that fully displays the weight and movement of migration beyond established structure. The texture is made to look like both foaming water from the raging rapid of moving populations, as well as the mountainous cerro surrounding Lima, where San Juan de Miraflores is located. On top of this texture are new structures, the small homes of migrants that appear to be both lodged into the mountains, as well as carried into place by the sheer force of the migratory path, which affords their current space. In this way, fluid migration interacts with preexisting structure and restructures the city through its force.



This work was the original. It was inspired by the same ideas and was supposed to include homes on top of the talco mixture, but I became dissatisfied with how continuous the image was, and how it seemed as if fluidity/migration, as represented by the water-like figures, was uninterrupted. I desired more discontinuity and interaction between what could be clearly defined as “structure”, and the interweaving intersections of fluidity. As well, I was still experimenting with the talco mixture and produced a very brittle texture. As I was trying to redesign the work, the talco shattered and fell apart (the beginning of this process could be seen in the picture). As well, I accidentally destroyed the image as I was cutting it into discontinuous pieces. Rather than starting over completely, I reused many of the materials from this first attempt. Many of the cells in “Overflow” were cut from this work. As well, I salvaged the wood grid to make the new walls around the cells and the houses on the ceramic.

Overall, “Breaking” should be juxtaposed to “Overflow” as different ways in which fluidity and structure can interact. Force of transience, as in migration, can overwhelm the established structure and reform into something entirely new, redesigning the structure (even if this new design takes the form of the terribly poor migrant communities of San Juan de Miraflores). As well, this force can simply break the structure, collapse, and reemerge as a blend of the same materials.

The Wall of Shame: Class Segregation of Santiago de Sucre and San Juan de Miraflores

Divide: Pictures show Peru's ten-foot high Wall of Shame topped with razor wire which divides the rich and poor to stop the less well-off stealing from the wealthyThe wall of shame, a concrete barrier between the informal neighborhoods of San Juan de Miraflores, and the affluent residents of Santiago de Surco, is a frequently cited example of segregation along class lines in Latin American cities. It stands at three meters tall and is topped with rings of barbed wire, stretching over ten kilometers of mountainous terrain to separate the two sharply distinct communities. Santiago de Surco, to the west, boasts vast green spaces and large two-story homes with personal swimming pools. Community security guards patrol the streets and close the neighborhood’s gates at night; their outposts are spread out throughout the area. On the other side of the wall is the sprawling assortment of informal homes in San Juan de Miraflores (not to be confused with the district of Miraflores closer to the center of Lima, a very affluent part of the city). These homes, built into the “Cerro”—the mountainous regions surrounding central Lima, as has been discussed in earlier posts and represented in my artwork—are often constructed of spare wood and concrete, and topped with slabs of sheet metal.

Residences in San Juan de Miraflores lack the basic services that are readily supplied to their affluent neighbors on the other side of the wall. Most homes do not have electricity, and 9 out of 10 residences do not have access to the public water supply, or a connection to any drainage system (TECHO 2018). Those that live in S.J. de Miraflores must pay for water to be independently shipped into their neighborhoods via water trucks, often shoveling out ten times as much money as the wealthier residents of Santiago de Surco, who have public access to water (OXFAM 2014). Approximately 92% of those that live in Nueva Rinconda (a subdistrict in Santiago de Surco) “compra agua a los camiones cisterna”, and pay three soles for 100 liters of water, which is subsequently poured into large blue canisters for residents’ use (OXFAM 2014). Residents must sometimes wait for hours for the water trucks to arrive, as their “erratic (routes) up the steep dirt tracks of the ‘slum’” are often unpredictable (Mervin 2015). Residents then pour and carry this water into their homes, but must be careful to clean and sanitize all buckets and pitchers in order to avoid water borne diseases that are also carried in by the trucks.

Also lacking for many residents, are property deeds. Most residents have purchased plots of land informally from the technical “landowner”, but hold no property ownership, and cannot legally point to any documents that support their claim to remaining in the Cerro. From 1950 to 1980, the population of Peru’s Lima district has grown to over 9 million, most of whom are living in the “conos” to the north and south of the city’s center. At the same time, Lima’s “hierarchical order was maintained, in which the rich occupied the center of the city, surrounded by the middle class, with the lower class inhabiting the peripheries” (Boano and Desmaison 2016). Since the 1980s, internal migration to Lima has soared as many Peruvians from the country’s Sierra and Selva regions fled their rural homes in search of security and opportunity in the city. The severe economic downturn during the 80s, alongside terrorism and internal conflicts throughout the country, pushed millions to concentrate in the districts surrounding central Lima in what is known as “the invasion”. Simultaneously, upper- and middle-class residents also moved outside of the city, which they felt were becoming too crowded. Thus, the lands surrounding central Lima were split between affluent residents, and incoming migrants.

“This meant that social groups, which traditionally occupied distanced geographical spaces, now shared the same territory: both the upper and lower social classes mingled in the city’s peripheries. To quell a growing fear of their poorer neighbours, affluent new residents built gated communities with heavy security installations which prevent people living outside those areas to pass through them. It’s not just a matter of security – living within a gated community also confers social status. The walls deter and immobilise: they are an expression of power and control over the lives of others” (Boano and Desmaison 2016).

These conditions have generated the current situation at the wall of shame. In the next post, I will discuss what these walls, their power, and their relationship with space entail, and how social class can be understood in terms of permanence and transience in a spatial setting.


TECHO presents their first report on the human settlements of the district of San Juan, Peru





El Cerro y El Centro; Caos y Anomalia en Lima

Caos y Anomolia, Cerro y Centro

Las dos imagenes en contraposición representan lo que es una ciudad, una urbanización normal contra lo que se da en Lima, Perú, que es la invasión a la montaña como zona urbana; dando la anomalía de la vida cotidiana en un espacio anormal. El caos de Lima con su pobreza a llevado a la sobrepoblación a asentuarse en zonas peligrosas como son las montañas, los cerros. Se visualiza en el desorden de estos asentamientos improvisados que se volvieron parte de Lima, han sobrevivido al tiempo, volviendose parte de Lima sin que lo miremos dos veces.

Hemos usado como síntesis las ventanas de estas estructuras para representar a los mismos edificios y casas, destacando sus características de orden por un lado: verticales, planeadas, simétricas; contra el caos y desorden de la ubicación de las casas del cerro con sus respectivas ventanas, donde no tienen una lógica estricta, al igual que todas las construcciones de la zona.

También, hemos usado materiales diferentes para ambas imágenes. Las texturas de la imagen de la ciudad son inorgánicas, y hemos usado machinas para imprimir las ventanas en la madera. La madera es suave y ordenada, y el espacio entre las ventanas es igual. Las figuras de los edificios en la ciudad son claras. Por otro lado, la imagen de las casas en el cerro es desordenada. Los materiales son caóticos y incluyen pedazos de madera, papel, lija, y otras cosas ásperas. Primero, construye una obra con lija y papel, y las ventanas dibujadas con carbón. El uso de carbón significa que las ventanas/casas no son permanentes, porque las marcas del material pueden desaparecer fácilmente. Después, rompimos la imagen en pedazos y los pegue encima de una tableta de “chipwood”.

La imagen modela el caos y la anomalía en el espacio de la ciudad de Lima, y ​​decidimos realizar nuestro proyecto sobre áreas de vida al comparar el diseño del centro de la ciudad con las casas del cerro. Es entre el orden y el desorden, y cómo se desarrollan realmente las ciudades. La idea es comprender el espacio urbano y cómo la permanencia, la gestión y el orden, todo factor en las estructuras de las casas y las vidas de los residentes (representadas como ventanas).

Reflections on Moving Subjects within the City


Image result for obelisk painting abstract


En esta imagen, quería presentar una estructura con poder y peso en frente en un ángulo. Yo vi una foto de un obelisco en un parque a lado de la avenida Ejercito. El obelisco es una anomalía natural, esta construido para atraer atención. Es una memoria y una señal, y entonces su diseño rompe el cotidiano. Sin Embargo, muchas veces. Un monumento este combinado al fondo porque es viejo o los residentes están acostumbrados. En este proyecto quiero expandir el movimiento en el papel. Los bordes del obelisco son afilados como un cuchillo, y corta la comunidad al fondo. Mis acciones para utilizar las lecturas en esta clase van a usar carbón y construir un “imagen oscura y con peso”. https://www.loriharrisondesign.com/shop-art


Image result for callao lima airEn el aire, cuando veas la costa de Lima, una estructura corta la ciudad. El aeropuerto Callao, es un rectángulo entre los edificios de el norte y oeste y campos del sur. Por supuesto, Callao sirva como una anomalía en la forma normal de Lima, pero también corta la ciudad a la mitad. También, ¿qué es el movimiento? Las calles, y edificios en el centro de Lima, ¿o los campos y la tierra acerca de la costa? ¿Qué es la anomalía aquí? Callao representa el cambio internacional y global en Lima. La influencia exteral entra a través del aeropuerto. Extranjeros visitan Perú y Lima a través de los aviones, y también el comercio necesita el aeropuerto para funcionar. Al sur, los campos significan un Lima antigua, antes de la influencia. Los aviones en vuelo mueven arriba y adentro del aeropuerto.

La Marcha

El punto de partida de la marcha será en el parque Washington. Las calles en una ciudad corta el espacio entre los edificios. Pero, en el cotidiano, no son anomilias, son un parte de la ciudad para apoyar las estructuras. Las calles son las raíces de los arboles de los edificios. El comercio, los residentes, y todas las personas y cosas de la ciudad van a través de las calles para crecer y mantener el ritmo del Lima. Una marcha es un movimiento, físicamente, y también en la ideología. Interrupta el ritmo de la ciudad y cambia las calles. Se transforma en un mecanismo para la cambia. Las carreteras, en este caso, son ríos y raíces, pero las personas actúan como agua diferente de los carros y autobuses que conducen en las calles. https://rpp.pe/lima/actualidad/marcha-ni-una-menos-conoce-la-ruta-de-la-movilizacion-programada-para-este-sabado-noticia-1142616

La Inundación

Related imageLa imagen aquí significa el caos de una inundación. La textura de el agua sucia contrasta con las fachadas suaves de los edificios. En todo, una inundación es un movimiento con peso, pero en la imagen, el agua parece lo mismo de las montanas al fondo. Todo esta marrón y pardo en un ambiente total. En terreno ambas en las carreteras y las montanas encima, uñita la escena. Es cautico, pero el mismo color significa algo natural. Sin embargo, hay una anomalía en la imagen. Las personas, los edificios y el esfuerzo para escapar la situación induce un sentimiento de caos y miedo. Tambien los colores de azul, en el medio de las aguas oscuras y pardas significa una lucha de humanidad y cultura en una situación del medio ambiente. https://www.tcgnews.it/2017/03/nuevas-lluvias-amenazan-agravar-las-inundaciones-en-peru-75-muertos/

Dia de La Mujer

Lima has faced a long struggle to address violence against women within the city. El femicido o feminicido, one of the most troubling forms of this violence, is frequently the subject of news reports on the evening television. Throughout the city, posters that declare the names of murdered women, survivors of sexual assault, and victims of the state’s inaction, are plastered on the facades of buildings and hung on lamp posts. On the streets, it isn’t uncommon to see a man hovering over his girlfriend and speaking loudly inches from her face as she cowers or averts her eyes. Although it is unfair to attribute this same level of violence to the quotidian lives of all men and women in Lima, open and unaddressed harm to women hangs heavily over many residents, as can be observed in daily conversations and nightly reports of another dead woman found in another part of the city.

This macabre scene indeed seems to be an entrenched reality for many Lima residents, and feminicidos often paint the image of anti-woman violence a crimson red. As previously mentioned, posters on the walls of buildings frequently depict bloodied figures with hands covering their mouth. In one case, a poster simply displayed the chalk outline of a woman in a black background. There were no words. In this scene are two important features of anti-woman violence in Lima. First, is the intense display of abuse, pain, and death. Second, is the position of these posters on the solid, permanent walls of buildings. Street art and graffiti depicting feminicide on the streets of Lima locate violence on the the facades of businesses, public buildings, and street-side stores. They transform neutral bricks and mortar into harbingers of assault and murder targeting women, illuminating the violence that exists entrenched within Lima’s permanent institutions. In this role, the chalk outline is particularly powerful, searching for the victimized body of the woman on the solid, ordered walls of Central Lima’s public offices.

In this scene, the permanent, sturdy buildings of downtown Lima symbolize  perpetuated violence. Women’s expressed frustration at the lack of a public response to the suffering they experience repaints the city’s buildings in the sanguine colors of their participation in this anguish. State institutions such as the city police force, the municipal security, or Serenazgo, legislators, and courts have all failed to bring perpetrators of assault and murder to justice, and have frequently left women as the sole defenders of their bodies and rights. Likewise, the private sector has failed to provide women with protections in their workplace, and frequently protect abusive male managers and owners. The public and the private, both made permanent and visible through the brick, steel, and concrete materials of Lima’s downtown buildings, are additionally built upon the structures of power that violate women, and protect their abusers.

Contrasted to the “permanence” of the buildings in Lima’s historic center, are the spaces and subjects in between them. The people that pass below the towering structures in the central district are temporary compared to the lengthy stretches of time that the buildings exist, power emanating from their design and operation. As I pass underneath the “Palacio de Justicia”, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights building (depicted in “Images of Transience”), I cannot help but notice the fleeting nature of my presence. I cannot stand back and witness the entire mass of the building without needing to turn my head, or walk to another part of the street. In relation to my perspective, the Palacio extends far and wide and remains in position as I must walk around it to examine its full expanse. Additionally, its towering gray walls, reminiscent of a 1920s police “noir” film, bring to mind intense permanence and stability. Those who walk before it are only brief participants in the public order that emanates from the Palacio’s steps.

However, the impermanence of the pedestrian, the passerby, the everyday citizen, forms and reforms in ways that amass more power and presence. The “Dia de la Mujer”, an international movement for the celebration of women and solidarity in a struggle for equal rights and treatment was one such event that transformed the passing citizen into a powerful march. On March 8, 2019, I was able to participate and support the women’s march on el Dia de la Mujer, where thousands of women and men marched throughout the city, filling the roads of downtown Lima, and occupying the entirety of the city space. The color purple flooded avenues and transformed the spaces in between the massive buildings of the historic center into a solid entity.

Women chanted in unison, “tembla, tembla, tembla las machistas, todo Latin America somos las feministas”. They lifted similar banners depicting feminicides, chains, blood, and pain, while simultaneously holding hands and crossing arms. Indigenous feminist groups presented their message through traditional dances. As well, Afro–Peruanas pounded cajones as they advanced throughout the city. Both of these displays adopted an intersectional stance of inclusive solidarity, but also redirected the “transient” march into forms that exuded great energy and passion. Below the Palacio de la Justicia, the march proceeded, enveloping the imposing building in a wave of purple. For the night, the solid gray walls of the ministry seemed adrift in an ocean of the movement as if it itself could be washed away in a moment. Perhaps this is the power of a march. Although it is temporary, it is powerful. The relationship between permanence and transience in the forms of structural violence and popular response transitions from one into the other. What seems as if it could exist for thousands of years can be washed away in the passionate waves of an intentionally temporary movement. Yet, when the march disperses as well, the building still stands, as the remnants of the movement litter the streets. Potentiality. Alternatives. Futures. Perhaps this is what the march presents with so much ardor.

El Rostro del Peru: Matos Mar and Migration

In preparation for an art project about the “ritmo” and “caos” of Lima, I came across a book chapter by Jose Matos Mar (1921-2015), a Peruvian anthropologist that transformed Peruvian urban anthropology. His book, Desborde Popular y Crisis del Estado: El Nuevo Rostro del Peru en la Decada de 1980, offers many vital ideas about migration and urbanization. This post serves as a reflection upon the ideas in Matos Mar’s chapter, “El Nuevo Rostro Urbano: La Forja de una Identidad (pp. 70-95).

Close to 80% of those living in Lima live in urban-popular settlements are concentrated in three valleys: Rimac, Chillon, and Lurin. These homes occupy large portions of alleys and slums (callejones y tugurios) throughout the city, but especially in the northern and southern “cones”, territories surrounding Lima that contain little infrastructure, and sparse social services.

Extreme population expansions between 1950 to 1980 (which I will talk about in a later post) led to a massive increase in habitation surrounding the central Lima district. Since 1940, when Lima contained 645,172 inhabitants, the city has grown to over 9,000,000 today. Previously, 65% of Peru’s population lived in rural environments, and now the same number represents those living in urban settings, Lima hosting the vast majority of these citizens. Such “massive concentration has created special structures and societies in the urban world, as well as new tensions” (71).

Matos-Mar points out that over 41% of the new urban population in Lima are internal migrants, who abandoned their homes to seek urban opportunity. More than half of these migrants are from the Sierra, the central mountainous region of the country. He states that:

“En 1984, Lima es ciudad de forasteros. Las multitudes de origen provinciano, desbordadas en el espacio urbano, terminan profundas alteraciones en el estilo de vida de la capital y dan un nuevo rostro a la ciudad (72)”.

The city has also drastically expanded in land-size. However, it’s geographic location between the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by the Andes mountains on all sides, presents natural limits to this physical growth.

“el enorme desplazamiento de las masas provincianas a la capital ha venido convertiendo a la ciudad en el crisol y muestra de todos los procesos en marcha en el peru. Esta mayoritaria concentracion migrante en barriadas y urbanizaciones populares ha terminado por constituirlas en factor determinante de la nueva dinamica social metropolitana” (75).

A large problem arose surrounding migrants’ new living conditions, and the ill-suited city-space into which they arrived. The migrant “had to adapt to the context offered to them by the city and to find solutions in the possibilities given for their previous experience (75)”. Matos-Mar argued that the migrant faced two options: one was to go through the legal system and accept the “ceiling”, and the second was to violate the limits of the established system (76). Many, unable to work through the legal system for obtaining a home, were forced to “invade” the land, and convert it to fit their basic needs. Without property deeds, migrants squatted in territories throughout the area. The pressure that they placed on the city to meet the needs of residents eventually led to the city’s recognition of their land in what Matos-Mar calls the era of “mass contestation” (77).

Syncretism between the Hispanic coast, and migrant serrano culture followed the mass migration of Andean workers and families. Now, in Lima, one can find Andean fiestas at the rooftops of buildings, new Andean dances that incorporate indigenous rhythm and tunes, and the Quechua language is frequently emitted through local radio stations.

“el enorme vigor y la presencia alcanzados por lo andino en el medio radial, nos ofrece un ejemplo importante de la dinámica activa con que el nuevo Limeño redfine su identidad en el contexto urbano, para luego proyectarla en forma agresiva, como factor importante en la formación de una nueva cultura” (84).

Today, there is a general incapacity for public services to assist the large number of migrants that live in the city. With few financial resources, the state is forced to focus its efforts on extreme cases of disorder, sanitation, and safety (86-87). With rapid expansion, the city is hard-pressed to supply transportation and support to new communities that have sprouted up to the far north and south. Matos-Mar offers a prime example of this growth in the Lima Microbus. Microbuses, or “Micros”, are small buses that sprawl throughout Lima in dozens of different lines and routes. Lima, without a large public transportation system (it really only has a few public buses that travel down main roads), relies on Micros, combis (even smaller vans), and other private vehicles to fill the gap. These modes of transportation have had to rapidly increase their fleets and routes, creating a scene of intense traffic and confusion in the streets.

Matos-Mar concludes his analysis of 1980s Lima with a discussion of migrant groups’ makeshift cultures and its relation to an inadequate public support network. He points out that the state’s lack of resources has contributed to extreme violence, crime, and malpractice within migrant communities. In response to this gap, a popular demand for wellbeing followed what Matos-Mar calls the “invasion and capture” of land around Lima. In short, communities created their own local, make-shift, solutions to their problems. Due to the extremely high cost of healthcare in the country, migrant groups turned to local healers and herbalists that could offer natural treatments. Religious communities developed their own local traditions that altered Roman Catholicism and combined evangelical teachings to establish new pseudo-denominations. Migrants addressed their lack of educational services by forming clandestine schools and academies that taught their kids basic lessons at lower prices, maintaining their own curriculum against the laws of the public education system. Lastly, communities organized local security and police forces to monitor their claustrophobic streets.

“la ilegalidad, la alegalidad, la clandestinidad, y la semiclandestinidad se convierten en un estilo dominante e invasor en el que cristaliza institucionalmente la nueva cultura y ante cuya universalidad y omnipresencia el Perú oficial solo puede responder con el escándalo, la indiferencia o intentos esporádicos y violentos para hacer sentir que continua existiendo mas allá de los limites de la inmensa casbah limeña” (92).

All of the points that Matos Mar gracefully presents are important points of departure for my own ethnographic account of transience, management, anomaly, and order in Lima. The striking cases of migrant clinics, schools, and security forces offer incredible lessons about fluid response and local organization between the interstices of state authority.

Matos Mar, Jose
1980   “El Nuevo Rostro Urbano: la forja de una identidad,” Desborde Popular y Crisis del Estado, el  nuevo rostro del Peru en la decada de 1980 Pp 70-95IEP, Tercera edicion. http://repositorio.iep.org.pe/bitstream/IEP/666/2/peruprolema21.pdf.