Mesa de conferencias de UCSD construida por inmigrantes indocumentados / UCSD Conference Table Built by Undocumented Immigrants, 2020. Constructed from scrap wood pieces from the carpentry shop where I used to work as an undocumented worker. In collaboration with my brother Martín Alvarado. Dimensions: 120 in. x 60 in. x 64 in.
The question at the center of this project has been, what happens when we center the campesino/immigrant family as the starting point for looking at this conference table and thinking about its use? This is not a romanticized view. In asking this question, it is necessary to recognize the ongoing colonial and capitalist violence that continues to disrupt our kinship ties. This project of the table is not a “celebratory” show of inclusion, or a “message” that we can all sit at the same table together. Instead, the goal is to re-embed/reconnect the table with particular lives and histories with which it was always entangled. No longer used by powerful people in an institution making decisions that affect others’ lives, the question of who the table is for and how it is “meant” to be used is disrupted and challenged.
During the project, I repurposed the conference table was repurposed in a series of different ways. We covered it with a tablecloth embroidered by my sister (in México) to use it as a dining table for family meals. I climbed on top of the table to use it as a stage where I carried out a shamanistic ritual dedicated to my father’s memory, performed on an electronic drum set. Now the table is on display as a different kind of stage, with “scenes” showing memories of me with my brother. The scenes show how we came to work in the carpentry woodshop where we built many tables like this, and by sitting at the ends of the table we can look at each other through those scenes.
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