We Got Each Other’s Backs

November 7, 2020 – February 14, 2021
Gallery Hours: Thursday & Friday, 12-6pm / Saturday & Sunday, 12-4pm
By Appointment Only: December 24, 2020 – January 3, 2021 (email kevin@pica.org to request)
Virtual Symposium: February 13 & 14, 2021 (program and schedule to be announced January 2021)

During open gallery hours, the exhibition space will have limited capacity, and face coverings and physical distancing will be required. Hand sanitizer and PPE will be available if needed.

Part of a long-term documentary project by interdisciplinary artist Carlos Motta— in collaboration with artists Heldáy de la Cruz, Julio Salgado, and Edna Vázquez– We Got Each Other’s Back is a three-part, multi-channel video installation featuring portraits of queer artists and activists in the United States who are or have been openly undocumented, and who are producing work to denounce historic and present-day broken US immigration policies. The project demonstrates how the intersections of sexuality, gender, ethnicity, race, and economic background define the environment of marginalization and discrimination to which immigrants are subjected, while challenging mainstream media narratives of immigration and sexuality by presenting nuanced, real-life stories of living at the margins of the legal system. We Got Each Other’s Back also includes live and online events and public programs that engage the challenges faced by undocumented migrants.

The first chapter, titled Narrative Shifter: A Portrait of Julio Salgado, is a collaboration with Los Angeles-based artivist Julio Salgado, creator of the “Undocuqueer” project. Narrative Shifter was included in the exhibition Soft Power at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (October 2019 – March 2020), curated by Eungie Joo, in conjunction with a two-day international conference, Bodies at the Borders in January 2020 at SFMoMA and the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), co-organized by Carlos Motta and Rachel Nelson.

The second and third chapters of We Got Each Other’s Back, titled Heldáy de la Cruz: Desierto a desierto (Desert to Desert) and Edna Vázquez: Si se puede (Yes You Can), were produced in Portland, Oregon in summer 2020 in close collaboration with artist and activist Heldáy de la Cruz and singer/songwriter Edna Vázquez.

All three chapters will be presented at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) in Portland, Oregon from November 7, 2020 to February 14, 2021, including an international, interdisciplinary online symposium in the exhibition’s closing weekend that will engage themes and questions central to the project.

This exhibition is co-curated by Roya Amirsoleymani, PICA Artistic Director and Curator of Public Engagement, and Kristan Kennedy, PICA Artistic Director and Curator of Visual Art.