Overflow and Breaking; Fluidity and Structure in Migration


Overflow Finished

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 the 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.

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