Gemidos de la Tierra 2023, (Wailing of the Land/Soil), a public and political mobile installation, activated in Los Angeles County for two days as a three-truck caravan transporting twelve wooden panels inscribed with the names of people who perished in Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) custody, over the span of twenty years (2003-2023). The panels transported on trucks were accompanied by a procession of cars. Amézquita’s project highlighted two public death lists from ICE Detention Centers. One spanning from 2003 to 2018 (now removed from public access) and another list from 2019 to 2023. During the procession caravan, the panels made visits to detention centers and pro-immigrant mutual aid organizations to bring attention to the institutions that perpetuate systems of oppression and the organizations that uplift immigrants.
Amézquita reconnects to her indigenous Mayan heritage by incorporating mediums such as soil and corn, food recipes, healing metals, and rituals passed down through oral traditions, as a way of transcending colonization and sharing ancestral knowledge; challenging Latin identities shaped by a culture of erasure. The 222 names in Gemidos de la Tierra 2023, are cast in a medium made of soil belonging to the states where each of the individuals deceased, masa (corn dough), salt, and rainwater. Connecting with Mayan mythology, Amezquita draws upon the tale of Man’s creation, first of mud and lastly by corn; creating a medium that through alchemy brings forth the individual’s ability to inhabit physical space, beyond death and the desecration of their human rights. The work honors the humanity in the people who make up the list, in stark contrast to the cold minimizing of their lives to statistics. Amézquita makes visible the hardships and suffering of immigrants beyond the border crossing as she navigates the precarity of living conditions for immigrants in the United States; holding space for communal grieving and human connection as she births new modes of resistance and challenges centuries of marginalization, systemic oppression, and exploitation.
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. 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).