Photo by Etienne Frossard

Zac Hacmon: Beyond the Pale at The Border Gallery

Curated by Eva Mayhabal Davis

Feb 4 – March 15, 2020

The Border Gallery is pleased to present Beyond the Pale, a site-specific sculpture installation by Zac Hacmon with guest curator Eva Mayhabal Davis.

Responding to a natural inclination towards society’s parameters, both physical and conceptual, Zac Hacmon studies barriers. In Beyond the Pale, Hacmon presents a series of sounds and sculptures.

 With sound, a sense of the topography and voices seeps through the gallery. While the viewers’ body navigates a sculptural form in order to hear and find function. Stepping into a role that crosses back and forth, physically maneuvering amongst imposed barriers. The sculptures are in the form of a military hedgehog, a massive border fortification, of intersected ‘l’ beams. Their history traces back to the border fortifications used for the Atlantic Wall during World War II. The tile that defines their surface is reminiscent of the in-between spaces that Hacmon often makes. Creating a more palpable fortification that although overwhelming on-site, sits within the parameters for the viewer to listen to the sounds coming out from the vents in the sculpture.

 During volunteering trips to the Arizona-Mexico border, Hacmon collected sounds each one reverberating from the vents in the sculpture. In one, the rustles of walking through the Sonoran Desert, following migrants’ trails during a water run to refill tanks maintained by the Humane Borders Humanitarian Organization. Other stories include: an anonymous asylum seeker and worker from the Casa Alitas Shelter and an undocumented worker recounting his journey across Arizona. There are also words of wisdom from Jose Rivera on the delineated border conflicts between the border and the US land relations with the Tohono O’odham Nation. Finally, a poem, shared by a member of the Tucson Samaritans: NO ANSWERS ––NOW OR EVER, dedicated to an unknown baby that died at milepost 19 on the Arivaca Road.

These forms and stories enter a complicated territory of history and land. The in-betweens, like corridors, valleys, and ultimately borders that are a consistent conflict in Hacmon’s work. For Beyond the Pale, he continues to work within this framework moving with a bird’s eye view and activating first hand. Seeing these enclosures of land as one of many markers of historical epochs. At one point, the British Empire established borders with pales, Irish territory was invaded and divided, the pale determining a governable side and ungovernable. In the same way that to this day the United States corrals its deemed ungovernable populations.

 There are over 300 reservations for Native American nations and 2.3 million peoples in prison complexes including immigration detention centers. The border that separates the terrain between the USA and Mexico also impacts the wild life, channeling not just animals but people through even more dangerous gaps of desert terrain. Just along Arizona, according to Humane Borders between October 1999 and December 2018, 3339 migrant deaths were recorded, an inconceivable number in any which way and unimaginable through today.

The stories presented here vary in perspective but their strength and conviction for being in this in-between is defiant of the borders created by governments. The very human work and essence goes beyond any pale and the vessel the audience interacts with distrups physical and psychological borders for empathy. This work will expand and continue.

 We would like to thank the participating individuals for their generosity and time.

 Sarah M. Reed, Program Coordinator at Casa Alitas Program – Aid for Migrant Families and Jose Rivera Director of Tohono O’odham Nation Culture Center and Museum. The poem is read by Gail Kocourek, a member of the Tucson Samaritans, the support of Humane Borders Humanitarian Organization and the anonymous contributions. We also acknowledge and thank the caretakers of the Sonoran Desert and Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.

 Zac Hacmon is a New York-based artist born in Holon, Israel. Hacmon is a sculptor and installation artist, whose work investigates modes of control and the delineation of private and public spaces. His exhibitions include King of the Hill, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, UNBORN, mh PROJECT nyc, New York 2019, Code vs. Code, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel, Empathy, Smack Mellon, New York 2018. Publications include 100 Sculptors of Tomorrow, Thames & Hudson, Kurt Beers, September 3, 2019. Hacmon is a recipient of the Santo Foundation Individual Artist Award 2019 and Cafe Royal Cultural Foundation NYC Fall Visual Project Exhibition Grant 2019. His previous residencies include LMCC Workspace Residency (2018-2019), Salem Art Works Residency Fellowship Program, Salem, New York (2017), International Artist-in-Residence Program at MeetFactory Studio, Prague, Czech Republic (2015), MMCA International Artists Residency Program at National Art Studio, Changdong, Seoul, South Korea (2014). Hacmon received an MFA from Hunter College and a BFA from Bezalel Academy of Art (Israel). 

 Eva Mayhabal Davis has curated exhibitions at BronxArtSpace, En Foco, Expressiones Cultural Center, MECA International Art Fair, Queens Museum, Smack Mellon, and Ray Gallery. In 2020, she will be the Curator-in-Residence at Brooklyn’s Kunstraum LLC and co-director at Transmitter. Based in New York, she works with artists and creatives in the production of exhibitions, texts, and events. Her personal immigrant narrative drives her work in advocacy to advance equity and social justice values through the arts and culture. She is a founding member of El Salón, a meetup for cultural producers based in NYC. She has spoken on her curatorial work at the AC Institute, Artist Space, Queens Museum, The 8th Floor, Brooklyn College, and NYC Crit Club. Her writing has been featured in Hemispheric Institute’s Cuadernos, Nueva Luz: Photographic Journal, CultureWork Magazine, and the Guggenheim Museum Blog.  

This project was supported, in part, by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant and by the

Café Royal Cultural Foundation NYC, who have awarded a 2019 Fall Visual Grant to Zac Hacmon to help

realize the exhibition Beyond the Pale