Las Desaparecidas / Missing
Las Desaparecidas/Missing—the first in a trilogy of installations on the murders and “disappearances” of Ciudad Juarez girls and women---protests the impunity of this violence. Women, mostly single parents—come to Ciudad Juarez from small towns and villages all over Mexico, looking for work and a better life. These victims are primarily workers in maquiladoras, the export assembly plants along the United States-Mexico border, established under NAFTA. This work calls attention to the human rights crisis within our free trade global marketplace, and to the bodies of women as a site of violent struggle and violation.
In collaboration with 84 Mexican villagers in Tapalpa, Jalisco, participants’ fingerprints were taken, enlarged, and hand-embroidered; the fingerprints allude to the contrast between traditional village handicrafts and the anonymous machine work of the factories, and register a mark of protest against the violence and impunity so evident in the lack of proper forensic investigation in these cases. Victim names and photos, displayed in plastic envelopes, were collected with the assistance of activists in Ciudad Juarez. In the margin of these textiles the individual participants’ names are machine embroidered next to their own fingerprint, and large photos of the groups who participated were situated on the altar alcoves of the deconsecrated Templo, now a cultural centre. This work offers an opportunity for public protest and mourning, memorialization, empathic identification and collective political and moral consciousness.