When Donald Trump announced his bid for the presidency of the United States on June 15, 2016, he let the world know where he stood, using racist, xenophobic rhetoric to foment anti-immigration sentiment from his white national base. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump claimed. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
Though Trump himself has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 23 women since the 1980s, his scare tactics worked. Since elected, he has waged a campaign against immigrants from the Global South on both sides of the border. In just three years, the policies Trump Administration have destroyed families, uprooted countless lives, and left people to suffer and perish in facilities that deny them rights granted under the Geneva Conventions.
In the barrage of daily headlines, it’s easy to lose track and forget the scale and scope of these abuses of power. The new exhibition Trump Revolution: Immigration, the first of a year-long six-part series exploring the impact of the 45th presidency, takes on the task of making sense of this relentless assault. Here, curators Cynthia Rivera and Michael Kamber bring together the work of eight photographers and filmmakers including Greg Constantine, Kholood Eid, Luis Antonio Rojas, Elliot Ross, Griselda San Martin, John Moore, Cinthya Santos-Briones, and Laura Saunders, examining the complexities of the problem while showing the true human cost.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
John Moore, the only photojournalist to gain access to Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq War, presents a moving series of intimate scenes documenting the crisis. In 2017, he accompanied members of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on a raid in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and captured the heart stopping moment they knocked on somebody’s door. It’s a deceptively mundane image, which only heightens the horror it evokes. It is the very epitome of the banality of evil itself.
On the other end of the spectrum, Cinthya Santos-Briones shares work from the collaborative project Living in Sanctuary, which brings together photographs, drawings, handwritten text, and audio interviews with people inside sanctuary spaces, one of the nation’s last refuges. Here, the persecuted and their protectors are given voice, their faces and words intimate testimonies of the personal cost of the campaign to strip them universal human rights.
Trump Revolution: Immigration also features a second show, LINEA: The Border Project by Magnum Photographers, in a second gallery down the street. Here, the work of 16 photographers, who spent two weeks on either side of the US-Mexico border, offer a multi-faceted look at thee complex beauty of a region and its peoples under assault. Taken together, they provide an impressive, sometimes hallucinatory, look at staggering impact and foreboding implications of the President’s anti-immigration crusade.
By Miss Rosen
Trump Revolution: Immigration
Until May 29, 2020
Bronx Documentary Center, 614 Courtlandt Avenue, Bronx, NY 10451, USA