Dividing the Rio Grande

In Mari Kon’s “Rio Grande”, she shows us her take of the U.S./Mexico border with precise composition yet ambiguous content. Alternating between black and white and color, Ms. Kon illustrates the complex nature of living in a border town, specifically El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. Reminiscent of The New Topographic movement, Ms. Kon shows us a story of the border that is devoid of people. She collapses the natural landscape with the built world in single frame to disorient us and make us question the role of a border. In frames that could evoke a range of emotions depending on where one lives in relation to the border, these images adhere to a very clear visual language that incorporates a certain dark humor with formalism.

With the exception of the few frames that show people, these views show in large part, what human activity has created. They subtly allude to the arbitrariness of borders, morphing the entire body of work to create a new city. This is no doubt due to the rejection of more typical journalistic views from the U.S./Mexico border. In what could be seen as a political stance, Ms. Kon shows us a US Border Control patrol car, covered with plastic in a room with only spackle on the walls. There is no violence being shown in this work, just the physical consequences to two cities that sit on opposite sides of the same river. 

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