Isaiah Ortiz – Disrupting Citizenship

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Faculty mentor: Coco James

Artist’s Statement: Narratives and art are powerful ways to display the urgent demands of marginalized groups. Narratives are a way to understand undocumented and documented communities and express their relationship to U.S. discourse around immigration. Primarily, legal documentation among migrants creates a hierarchy of deservingness. The narratives of undocumented and documented migrants reveal a desire to include undocumented and migrants with criminal offenses to engage in visibility and protest. The purpose of my project is to disrupt hegemonic notions of citizenship and depict the wide-reaching coalition that has become in the migrant community. There has been plenty of discourse surrounding documented activism like DACA and the Dream Act reinforcing ‘education, not deportation’ strategies. My project focuses on migrants left in the shadows like LGBTQ+ migrants, migrants with a criminal record, and undocumented migrants. Due to the exclusionary effects of citizenship, migrant youth have rejected it together. Some even reclaim their identity in U.S. political discourse by calling themselves illegal and coming to terms with their undocumented status. In essence the disruption of citizenship is a vital theme to my poster. The burning of the paper represents liberation from the binary of being documented and undocumented. It is also a demand to challenge hegemonic interpretations of citizenship by rejecting it altogether. Instead, many migrants’ activists have shifted to focus on mutual aid and anti-deportation strategies. “With or without papers – we will always be illegal.” (Schwiertz 16) Activists realize that gaining documentation status does not free them from their oppression. Undocumented individuals are reluctant to make themselves visible to society. Protests allow undocumented individuals to empower themselves and forefront their invisibility. In other words, they are coming out of the shadows.

View my art below!
Questions or comments? Contact me at: isaiah2ortiz@gmail.com

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