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A Site for Connection (2018)

15’x8’x20’; Two-part installation with audio work and wall work

The installation A Site for Connection documents my acquisition of a sheet of copper from the Buenavista del Cobre mine in Cananea, México. My father’s family is from Cananea and I grew up hearing stories of my uncle who, allegedly, pitched rocks into this mine and later played for the Detroit Tigers. As an MFA student at the University of Michigan, I used my position, and university letterhead, to request copper from Rene, a manager at the mine. This many-months correspondence was a way to explore my Mexican-American identity, my connection with family, and institutional power.

The installation features a sound piece of my Anglo mother reading the words I had originally written to Rene, and my Mexican-American father reading Rene’s replies back. Their voices shift the exchange from a business transaction to a negotiation of identity. Each voice comes from its own speaker; the speakers stand on rugs printed with the copper’s surface and with a map of Cananea and Ann Arbor. On the wall are annotated artifacts: prints of the correspondence, the box that brought the copper from Mexico to the US, and family images. The copper itself is absent from the installation.

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