Unearthed: Desenterrado is an outdoor, site-specific artwork by Texas-based artist and alumna Adriana Corral (MFA in Studio Art, 2013) that speaks to the deeply rooted history between the United States and Mexico. Located within the historic grounds of the Rio Vista Farm in Socorro, Texas, the installation features a solitary 60-foot flagpole hoisting a large-scale white, cotton flag. Embroidered on either side of the flag is the illustration of a “Mexican” golden eagle and an “American” bald eagle, each emblematic of their respective nation’s patriotism. The work is produced by Black Cube based in Denver, Colorado and curated by Cortney Lane Stell, Black Cube's Executive Director and Chief Curator.
Corral’s installations, performances, and sculptures explore universal themes of loss, injustice, concealment and memory. Her most recent group exhibition included a 2017 site-specific installation, The Trace of a Living Document, at the University of Texas at Arlington, which included eight 4x8 ft sifted ash burial plots, and eight 12x12x2 inch ash and gypsum tablets. The ashes obtained from burned documents of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Corral's most recent solo exhibition, 2016's Sous Rature, ‘Under Erasure’, was a site-specific installation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recreated in soil and ash, steel, bullet resistant glass, and a 4x8x6 ft burial plot curated by Juan De Nieves at the Artpace San Antonio, TX.
Visible from the El Paso–Juárez horizon, the flag in Unearthed: Desenterrado stands as a marker for the Rio Vista Farm - a facility most notably recognized as a key processing center to the "Bracero Program." The Bracero Program, which was established by the federal government during World War II, is known as one of the largest foreign worker programs in U.S. history. Between 1951 and 1964, Rio Vista Farm processed more than 80,000 Mexican workers per year. Today, the program is described by many people as a period of “legalized slavery,” according to findings from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Corral’s decision to fabricate the flag from cotton directly relates to immigrant labor and the Rio Vista Farm. Moreover, the flag is near where U.S. and Mexico unification flags once stood, “welcoming” Mexican immigrants to the facility more than fifty years ago.
“This project emphasizes the importance of recognizing and confronting the voids within our American history,” Corral adds in press materials.
Like much of her previous work, Unearthed: Desenterrado stands as an acknowledgement of unknown human rights violations and seeks to inspire deeper conversations about our history—and future—of border control along the U.S.–Mexico border. During the three-month exhibition, the flag will become tattered and worn from it's exposure to the elements. After its display in Socorro, Texas, Corral’s flag will be exhibited in museums and cultural institutions across the country.
Read more about the project and Corral's work in Denver-based arts writer Kealey Boyd's interview with Corral on Hyperallergic.