Reversal of Fortune

Video from inside shack.
installation view
photo by Paul Baker

REVERSAL OF FORTUNE is an installation/performance piece that premiered at Galeria de la Raza in July, 1996. I built an installation in the gallery, and every week performed readings with a tarot deck I made from immigrant stories I collected.

This piece was based around
the idea of “destiny” and “personal fortune” and was developed in 1996 in response to the legislative attacks on immigrants in California.

Who were the immigrants under attack in California? Let's be specific. Mexican, Central American and other Latino immigrants were under
the most severe attacks.

installation view
photo by Paul Baker
Video and strawberry candies inside shack.
installation view
photo by Paul Baker

Since the U.S. Border Patrol was created in 1924, no agent has been convicted for shooting and killing a Mexican. The records for at least the last twenty years, which show dozens of Mexicans shot and killed and dozens more wounded along the U.S.- Mexico border, including beatings numbering in the hundreds, continues to make one feel as though it were open season on Mexicans along the border." (Roberto Martinez; National Network News, Vol. VII, July-Aug. 1994, p.1)

Are these attacks over? There are over 125 million migrants in the world today. Only about 1% of them migrate to the U.S. each year, despite the hype about immigrants flooding U.S. borders.

The UN estimates that about 10,000 people are displaced as refugees each day. Of the top 15 U.S. immigrant-sending countries in 1992, for example, five of them could be tied to a U.S. military presence: Vietnam, the Philippines, El Salvador, Korea, and Iran.

At the time this show was developed, we were fighting the Republican Governor Pete Wilson, and his Proposition 187 that would require educators and medical professionals to deny public services to those "suspected" of being illegal immigrants and report them to the police.

Fortunately, the Governor of California lost that battle. If you live in California long enough, you beginto understand how dependent the economy of this state is on immigrants. When is this militarized border state going to acknowledge this?


performance still
photo by Paul Baker

reversal of fortune readings
artists statement
The Justice Card

The Tower Card
Corrido del Inmigrante

Many many thanks to Janet Swingle, Juanita Hagemann, Sue Hutchinson, Emilio Ramon, Olivia Armas for all their
assistance with this project, as well as
the Center for Ethics and Economic Policy, the National Network
for Immigrant and Refugee Rights,
Paul Baker for his wonderful photographs, and especially to the staff of Galeria de la Raza.