LAND ESCAPE, 2019
Land Escape is a site-specific installation depicting the act of immigration in its peril and absurdity. A scene bearing witness to the act of humans walking, carrying, searching, avoiding, seeking. This installation is an extension of a project created during Peñafiel’s 100 W Corsicana artist residency in Corsicana, TX.
Humans have always migrated — but today there are legal boundaries deeper than rivers, cultural resistance more formidable than mountains. A poisonous public dialogue on immigration unfolds across the world, yet their existence is sanitized out of public spaces. Meanwhile, people must continue to walk across borders through the dubious territory of documents and customs, safety and arrest. Land Escape brings that journey, so often talked about and so little seen.
Set against the pastel backdrop of Miami’s palette and urbanism, Land Escape depicts a caravan trudging through an abstracted world created out of drawing, photography, and found objects. These masked travelers move through a space with no clear geography, no set rules, no distinct path. A world made bizarre by their act of immigration. Land Escape’s tableau echoes the Parthenon frieze — a scene of travel from antiquity — showing another cycle of human movement. The format of a retail window display brings the immigrants and their journey parallel to the sidewalk, allowing others to march parallel alongside the scene, separated by barbed wire. Most importantly, the familiarity of the format situates the struggle of the immigrants where we are used to seeing the aspirational. This highlights the most difficult truth. The plight of the immigrant is the aspiration of some, the lived experience of others.
Edison Peñafiel is a visual artist working in many forms. Born in Ecuador and later relocating to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, his work seeks to create empathy by highlighting narratives of the oppressed, narratives that question the assumptions of our society. He earned a BFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from the Florida International University. His solo projects have appeared at 100 W Corsicana, Elsewhere Museum, and Centre Gallery among many others. Selected group exhibitions include the South Florida Cultural Consortium at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art at the Orlando Museum of Art, and the Florida Biennial at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood. He’s been the recipient of the South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship 2019, the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art 2019, and the Florida Biennial Juror’s pick award. His latest residencies include 100 W Corsicana, Elsewhere Museum, and Fågelbo.