(Un)documenting

Twitter @Undocumenting

Mel Beltrán

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In Their Words:

"For a long time I was the "good” immigrant, assimilating as a form of survival, unknowingly fading into whiteness and cisheteronormativity until i didn’t know who i was. So i create to heal/cope, to unlearn, to find and own the voice that i was taught didn’t matter as a queer mexican immigrant, to fight back as one of many voices. I create for the intersecting communities i’m part of. To unapologetically make my/our differences known. We’re not White America, we exist and experience and interpret life in our own diverse ways, and none of it makes us any less human. 

I choose painting/visual art because expressing myself visually has been something that always came easy to me, tho at the root of it is a love for using any medium to create and make our feelings and thoughts known. So I dabble a little in poetry too. Despite this, appreciating my own skills, listening to myself has and continues to be a difficult process. But every difficulty is worth it.”

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Alex Aldana

"Because we were not in our country, we could not use our own language, and so when we spoke our voices came out bruised. When we talked, our tongues trashed madly in our mouths, staggered like drunken men. Because we were not using our languages we said things we did not mean; what we really wanted to say remained folded inside , trapped. In America we did not always have the words. It was only when we were by ourselves that we spoke in our real voices. When we were alone we summoned the horses of our languages and mounted their backs and galloped past skyscrapers. "-From We Need New Names, a novel by Noviolet Bulawayo

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Photo: After a decade of living in the U.S as an undocumented immigrant , Alex returns home to Mexico on December 2013. La Zona Rosa ,Mexico City.

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Felipe Baeza

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In Their Words:

My work begins with a fascination for reverse anthropology, utilizing my biography not only for exploration of personal experience, but also as a lens to comprehend the persistent effects of social institutions and cultural practice on an individual.

Political statements and statements about sexuality are at the forefront of my work i.e. immigration, AIDS, and queer identity. Through these outlets, I aim not only able to reclaim my personal narrative, but to creatively reconstruct history.  Through the reassembly of imagery: colonial propaganda, indigenous codexes, consumer print media, I create new iconography presenting alternative and relevant understandings of colonialism, culture, sex, etc. Beyond the copious use of printmaking to radically expand my work, I am interested in experimentation, not only in printmaking processes but also in conceptualizing the print.

Belonging to a population that is often excluded and condemned, printmaking becomes a response to the exclusionary history books, religious propaganda, and magazines populating my upbringing.  The print and its ability to be infinitely reproduced re-assumes the tools of system for subversion and to insert condemned and excluded people with which I identify into the larger national conversation to provide the missing pages.

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Alan Pelaez Lopez

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In Their Words:

"I write because I am tired of hiding in a double-closet as undocumented and queer. When I write, the living rooms in my mind remember. I remember things from Mexico that I don’t understand— I remember the experiences of my mother, my aunts and our village. Likewise, I make jewelry to remember the days I would make bracelets at the age of 6 and sell them in the streets. I can cross all the borders I want without inspection through writing and designing. I am not restricted, I do not have to apologize to anyone, I am free. I am fighting for ink through writing and designing."

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May Liang

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Photo includes Janny Liang’s painting in the background. Janny is May’s older twin sister who is also an artist (painter) and undocumented.

In Their Words:

I am sick of seeing immigrants and people of color through the eyes of others. When white, male writers tell our stories, it’s “groundbreaking,” but when we write our own stories, we’re not taken seriously. We’re just angry, it’s “cute.” You are not doing us any favors, so let us have the reigns. Step aside so we can tell our truth. And don’t ever tell me that art is not political. That’s just an excuse to avoid the fact that you have nothing to say. I write to tell the truth, to empower my community, and because I have stories that need to be said.

[On why theater and playwriting] 

Because I love collaborative storytelling. When you share a story where others are needed to make it happen, it’s more impactful for everyone. I also believe there is something magical about live performance that human beings crave.There’s an electricity that can only happen in that space where you know that real breathing people are living a story, witnessing it.

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Stephanie “Soultree” Anne Ladrera Camba

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Photo by Sarah Jane Rhee of www.loveandstrugglephotos.com

In Their Words:

"Writing has been a source of personal empowerment and external oppression to me for as long as I can remember. Language and art have been used to exclude people like me and performing spoken word has been my way of reclaiming and resisting. Only recently have I been ready and in a place to recover through my art and performance expanding my focus from solely social justice issues to restorative justice for ourselves and our families as well."

"Stolen Lands" is my coming out story, which I first performed at the March 2010 immigration rally that took place in DC. It has now been converted into song format and I hope to retire it with all the ugly and painful experiences of being Pilipina and undocumented in the Midwest."

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Why Undocumenting? A Manifesto

Um, what does it mean to be “undocumenting?”

The Stories Being Told About Us

Anti-immigrant rhetoric and the broader migrant rights movement have experienced simultaneous growth over the past decade. As the stories of undocumented people continue to find their way into the media spotlight, a national narrative is being built around the undocumented experience in the United States. Yet this narrative too-often leaves out the perspective and authentic voice of its very subject: the undocumented community.

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Tumblr of the Week: (Un)documenting

thisisfusion:

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Photography by Gerardo Mendez, one of the people featured in (Un)documenting. 

By SYLVIA CIPRA

Each week we feature a Tumblr that we think stands out for all the right reasons.  Whether it has original content or a great mission, we hope to introduce you to the best that Tumblr has to offer.  Feel free to submit/recommend your favorite blogs to Sylvia.Cipra@Fusion.com

This week we have a newbie in the Tumblr world, (Un)documenting.  This blog showcases undocumented, or formally undocumented, people and all of their creative glory. 

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Day 10: Julio Salgado

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In Their Words:

"I believe that art has a big impact on culture and politics. I want to honor the younger folks that are doing amazing work that have given me the courage to come out as an undocumented person, and I want to honor them with art. I have actually come out of the closet twice - once as an undocumented immigrant and also as a queer person. It’s interesting the intersectionality between both identities." (link)

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Undocumenting: Week 2

Here’s a recap of the awesome folks who were featured last week:

Day 5: From New York, Melissa Garcia Velez reminds us that dance knows no borders, or boundaries

Day 6: From New York comes the award-winning videography of Frisly Soberanis

Day 7: From San Francisco, Raul Barrera's handmade leather bags help support his college education

Day 8: From Brooklyn, the work of Gerardo Mendez spans across activism, portrait photography, and fashion

Day 9: From Los Angeles, Dillon Sung explores what it means to be a revolutionary artist

On Friday, we were also featured as Univision’s Tumblr of the Week! Check out a summary here

Tune in this later afternoon for our first artist feature of this week!

Day 9: Dillon

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In Their Words:

" Perhaps the distinguishing question to ask is not "are you or are you not an artist?" but rather, "are you an artist or a revolutionary artist?" "

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Day 8: Gerardo Mendez

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In Their Words:

I design because colors and lines intrigue me, I am fascinated by the process of it all. You start with a blank screen and a couple of minutes or hours later you have a page full with lines and colors put together just right to make something beautiful, its amazing to me and every time I witness that I am completely fascinated like its the first time I witnessed design.

Photography for me is something of phenomena, it all has to do with light to make an imprint of a moment from life. I use this medium very broadly, I try to be as creative as possible every time I shoot, and I love it. It is something that I wish I had more time to do.” 

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