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EXHIBITION • Marcus DeSieno • Geography of Disappearance

6 June - 16 June


Marcus DeSieno • Geography of Disappearance

American artist Marcus DeSieno’s series of wet plate emulsion images, ‘Geography of Disappearance’, critically examines the border landscape of deliberate oppression of immigrants trying to cross the US-Mexican border. His project exposes the power structures deeply embedded in the American landscape and history through a deliberate and concise use of 19th century wet plate technology and lith printing. With this project DeSieno wants to foster a conversation about the risk of dehumanising immigrants as a global issue that only escalates as conflicts, wars and climate catastrophes close in on our communities.

In the open air exhibition space, the images have been translated from the original wet plate format into extremely large textile prints. The format aims to highlight the details of the artist’s process with wet plate emulsion, and invites the viewer to step through DeSieno’s great landscapes, and to immerse themselves in the feeling of being overpowered by an artwork and its story. Hanging from a metal cord the prints create a series of spatial obstructions for those who admire them, a border of textile, a symbol. Marcus DeSieno explains that the history of the United States, especially of the Western United States, is built upon the legacy of colonialism and white supremacy. This legacy is baked into America’s border policies. When thinking back on the history of American landscape photography, he explains that it is a conversation about power, and for DeSieno, using the landscape is a way to continue the tradition of talking about these embedded power relationships.

One day DeSieno was photographing the electronic surveillance fence on the Mexico-US border when he stopped at a gas station to fill up. What should have been a mundane action, fell totally apart when he heard a man was calling for aid in the scorching desert sun. Marcus called 911 and stayed with the man, but help arrived too late. The traumatic experience became the catalyst for DeSieno’s series of wet plate landscapes. DeSieno makes the purposeful choice of leaving out the main characters of this story, the immigrants, and focuses on the landscape to build his narrative. But it is not random landscape images from the border. The images depict the exact spots where migrants have died.

Marcus DeSieno is an American visual artist interrogating institutions of power through the language of photography. He is currently Associate Professor of Photography at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington and has exhibited in several international exhibitions. DeSieno is particularly interested in how visual technology is used as a tool of oppression by the state and what our future holds as this technology continues to evolve. The United Nations declared the US-Mexico border the deadliest land crossing for migration in the world, but it is far from being an exclusive issue. The American Artist outlines that this danger is present in the Mediterranean as well – it is actually the deadliest area for migration in the world. As the global situation continues to deteriorate due to climate change, global trade policies, war etc., more people will flee from their homes and this issue will be more and more present. Marcus DeSieno wonders how humanity can come together to deal with these issues? How can we end the political violence against innocent people?


Opening hours

Everyday 11AM – 8PM


6 June
16 June
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Festival Center
Refshalevej 173c
Copenhagen, 1432 Danmark
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