Gemidos de la Tierra (Wailing of the Land/Soil)
by Jackie Amézquita
March 25 and 26, 2023
Co-presented by LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions) and LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division)
We invite you to join LACE, LAND, and Jackie Amézquita and follow Gemidos’s procession for a powerful weekend of grieving, healing, and community across Los Angeles. On Saturday, caravan participants will begin the day at MOCA Geffen where the artist will kick off the procession with a performance. The trucks carrying Gemidos de la Tierra—twelve panels listing the names of individuals who died in ICE detention centers—will then lead the caravan. Participants in their cars will follow a route designed by Amézquita which includes detention centers and anti-immigrant corporations across Los Angeles. On Sunday, participants will follow the artwork to visit pro-immigrant rights and well-being organizations around the city, concluding the procession at MacArthur Park and with a special closing celebration. Drivers should anticipate driving for approximately 40 miles on Saturday, and 18 miles on Sunday.
The closing celebration will be held at MacArthur Park (7th & S Park View St.) from 3–5pm and will feature a special performance by Dorian Wood and Michael Corwin and free tamales provided by Across Our Kitchen Tables for the first 100 guests. Eduardo’s Tamales will be on site providing additional tamales for sale. Vegetarian options will be available.
About Gemidos de la Tierra (Wailings of the Land/Soil)
Gemidos de la Tierra (Wailings of the Land/Soil) by Jackie Amézquita addresses the cruel and fatal reality of detainment camps that immigrants encounter upon their arrival to the U.S. (List of Deaths in ICE Custody). The names of the deceased are created with soil from the state where the individual died, and combined with cornflour (masa), salt and rain water to symbolize that despite their death these individuals still inhabit a physical space.
Gemidos de la Tierra (Wailings of the Land/Soil) becomes a place of healing, memorializing, and encouraging activism. The names of children who were victims of the detention centers are created with the documents that published their deaths, and mixed with chia seeds that ultimately will sprout from the letters themselves. Due to each name being created with its own unique mixture of soil and other natural ingredients, each name possesses its own unique texture and color palette, honoring each individual rather than reducing their lives to a statistic as the U.S. Government does.
On March 25 and 26, this mobile public installation will be activated in Los Angeles and surroundings. The panels will be transported on trucks, to be exhibited while en route to each destination, accompanied by a caravan of cars. This project makes visible two public lists of deaths from ICE Detention Centers in 2003–2023 that will be presented in front of detention centers and pro-immigrant mutual aid organizations.
Amézquita’s project is integral to making the migration crisis visible. Through her use of transporting public documents that were found on ICE’s website (now removed), it is imperative to continue the dialogue about immigrants and the ways in which state-sanctioned violence and death are legalized and actively inflicted against migrants seeking refuge and a better quality of life.
This project was initiated by LACE’s former Chief Curator and Director of Programming Daniela Lieja Quintanar, who invited Amézquita to work with LACE and LAND for the execution of the mobile public art component of Gemidos de la Tierra (Wailings of the Land/Soil); Lieja Quintanar continues to support as an advisor.
About the Artist
Jackie Amézquita (b. 1985) is a Central American artist based in Los Angeles, California. Amézquita was born in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, and migrated to the United States in 2003. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from ArtCenter College of Design and an Associate degree in Visual Communications from Los Angeles Valley College. She recently completed her Master of Fine Arts in the New Genres program at the University of California, Los Angeles (2022).
About our Performers
Dorian Wood is a multidisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles. Her intent of “infecting” spaces and ideologies with her artistic practice is born from a desire to challenge traditions and systems that have contributed to the marginalization of people. Wood has performed at institutions that include The Broad, Los Angeles, CA (2018), Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, NY (2023), Museo Nacional Del Prado, Madrid, Spain (2019), the City Hall of Madrid, Spain (2015) and Teatro de la Ciudad Esperanza Iris, Mexico City, Mexico (2019), and at festivals that include Festivals Kometa, Riga, Latvia (2016), Moers Festival, Germany (2017), Cully Jazz Festival, Switzerland (2015) and Saint Ghetto Festival, Bern, Switzerland (2017). From 2019 to 2020, Wood completed several successful international tours with her chamber orchestra tribute to Chavela Vargas, XAVELA LUX AETERNA. In 2022, Wood debuted her tribute to the singer Lhasa De Sela, entitled LHASA, at the Festival Internacional de Arte Sacro in Madrid, in collaboration with singer Carmina Escobar and composer Adrián Cortés. As a visual artist, Wood has created illustrations and video installations that have been exhibited in galleries around the world. They have also directed several short films, among them “The angel” (2023), Low’s “Disappearing” video (2021), “American Savagery” (2021), “FAF” (2021), “The World’s Gone Beautiful” (2020), “PAISA” (2019, co-directed with Graham Kolbeins), “O” (2014) and “La Cara Infinita” (2013). Wood is a recipient of the Creative Capital Award (2020) and the Art Matters Foundation grant (2020), and is also a MacDowell fellow (2022) and a Loghaven fellow (2022). Wood has released over a dozen recordings, most recently the album Invasiva (Dragon’s Eye Recordings, 2022). In 2023, Wood debuted Canto de Todes, a 12-hour composition and installation, at REDCAT in Los Angeles. www.dorianwood.com
Michael Corwin is a musician based in Los Angeles, and a graduate of CalArts. He has worked with artists like Correatown, Liz Pappademas and the experimental ensemble Killsonic, and has been a frequent collaborator with Dorian Wood for over 15 years. As a solo artist, he released the album Andalucía (2009) under the name Red Maids. Corwin is also an accomplished furniture maker.
About our Collaborators
Across Our Kitchen Tables curates, organizes, and hosts events and conversations that center BIPOC chefs and food systems workers. We consider the present and future of food through thoughtful dialogue on topics including cultural foodways, entrepreneurship, food activism, and health and wellness. https://www.acrossourkitchentables.org
Eduardo’s Tamales will be selling tamales from his newly donated Un Dia de Arcoíris, a tamalero cart designed by LA-based artist Ruben Ochoa for street vendors in partnership with Revolutionary Carts and Inclusive Action for the City. Ochoa has partnered with Revolutionary Carts and Inclusive Action for the City to raise funds and donated custom wrapped street vendor carts with Ochoa’s graphics functioning as social sculptures. https://www.inclusiveaction.org/ruben-ochoa-art
LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) is a non-profit organization founded in 2009 committed to curating site-specific public art exhibitions in Los Angeles and beyond. LAND believes that all people deserve the opportunity to experience innovative contemporary art in their everyday existence, to enhance their quality of life and ways of thinking about their community. In turn, artists deserve the opportunity to realize projects in the public realm, unsupported through traditional institutions. LAND brings contemporary art outside of the walls of museums and galleries, into our shared public spaces and unique sites. nomadicdivision.org
Gemidos de la Tierra (Wailings of the Land/Soil) is supported by Angeles Art Fund, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Mohn LAND Grant, AltaMed, and National Performance Network (NPN).
Header Image: Jackie Amezquita, Gemidos de la Tierra, (2020-22). Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber. Graphic design by Carolina Ibarra-Mendoza.
El suelo que contiene mi partida, 2020-2022, It’s an installation piece that integrates two Lists of Deaths in ICE Detention Centers between 2003-2017 and 2018- October 2021. The public records of the first period can be found at:
List of Deaths in ICE Custody : 2018 to 2022
List of Deaths in ICE Custody : October 1, 2003 – June 5, 2017
The installation is made out of plywood and gypsum panels that measure 8′ x 4’x 2 1/2″. Each panel has a white background and is framed with copper borders, a conductive metal known to support healing by keeping the pathways for healing open. Individual panels house twenty names, except the first panel that holds twenty-one names.
Over a period of five years, after gaining my permanent residency. I traveled with family and friends across country acquiring soil from the following state intersections: Nebraska/Iowa, Texas/Louisiana, Georgia/Alabama, New Mexico/Texas, Arkansas/Mississippi, California/ Nevada, Mississippi/Alabama, Iowa/Minnesota, Nevada/Utah, Maryland/Pennsylvania, Washington/Virginia, Kansas/Nebraska, Kentucky/Tennessee, Arizona/New Mexico, Georgia/ Florida, Ohio/Kentucky, Ohio/Indiana, Puerto Rico, Baja California/California, Rhode Island/ Massachusetts, South Carolina/North Carolina, New Jersey/New York, Colorado/Utah, Missouri/ Illinois, and Connecticut/Rhode Island.
I used the acquired soil to reembody the names of the deceased. The soil represents their place of death. The soil is bound with cornflower, salt and rainwater. The soil Masa (dough) is cast in silicon molds and frozen before being baked in order to maintain their shape and consistency. People from my different communities in Los Angeles and family members from out of state gather to cast, carve, and embed the names.
The names of the children who lost their lives in Detention Centers are not part of the public records. Instead of using soil to cast their names, shredded news articles that documented the children’s deaths and chia seeds are used to reembody them.
As part of the performative aspect of the piece, together with my mother we blow air into the casted names of each panel, thus filling the void between the spaces that home their names. Adding the final ingredient to reembody their lives by using soil, rain water, fire and air.