Hostile Terrain 94 and Detention Nation
April 17 – May 15, 2021
Public Art UHS, the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies (CCS) at the University of Houston and the Sin Huellas Artist Collective collaborated to present a double exhibition featuring Hostile Terrain 94 and Detention Nation. These artist-activist projects sought to expand the dialogue concerning the violence of immigration enforcement, border policing, and migrant detention in the United States.
Hostile Terrain 94 was a participatory art project sponsored and organized by the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a non-profit research-art education-media collective. The exhibition was composed of over 3,200 handwritten toe tags representing the human remains of migrants who have died trying to cross the US-Mexico border since the mid-1990s. This installation was exhibited at more than 125 institutions nationally and globally.
Detention Nation was a companion virtual exhibition to Hostile Terrain 94. The Houston-based collective Sin Huellas originally conceived Detention Nation as a physical multi-media installation consisting of video, audio, detainee letters, cyanotype body prints, and plaster body casts huddled in Mylar emergency blankets. For this presentation, Sin Huellas has re-designed the physical installation as an online site that includes updated information about youth incarceration and family separations.
The Sin Huellas Artist Collective, Spanish for ‘without a trace,’ is a collective composed of Mexican, Latinx, and American artists and activists. The core members of Sin Huellas include: artists Delilah Montoya and Brenda Cruz-Wolf, artist-organizer Orlando Lara, organizer Deyadira Arellano, designers Matt O’Hare and Violette Bule and transcription support from Jonathan Gonzalez. Montoya is a professor at UH’s School of the Arts.
Hostile Terrain 94 and Detention Nation were co-sponsored by Public Art UHS and a number of academic departments at the University of Houston, among them: the Center for Mexican American Studies, the Center for Public History, the Creative Writing program, the Department of Economics, the Department of English and , the Department of Hispanic Studies. Additionally, Hostile Terrain 94 receives generous support from UH student organizations including the Association of Latinx/Hispanic Advocates & Allies, the Council for Cultural Activities, the Hallyu Club and the Blaffer Art Museum Student Association.
University of Houston
Blaffer Art Museum