In my most recent series entitled, “The National Bird,” I use performance art and photography to disguise myself as a migratory animal. I am building on the premise that wild creatures can legally cross territorial boundaries without checkpoints, anytime and anywhere. Each piece begins with a composition of masks and props and progresses through a series of personal rituals, songs, sounds, and movements that I perform live in front of an audience and other times in front of a camera. As part of documenting this process, I capture the nuances and performative behaviors of the subject animal in each scene and sometimes adapt qualities assigned to the animal by history and sometimes governments. This helps me to articulate details of broad and complex subjects such as immigration, race, and sexuality. These performative exercises attempt to illuminate the privilege that these animals have pertaining to choice of travel, location of settlement, and ease of traversing borders, both in the physical and the imaginary worlds. Image by: Looking For America, Detroit Historical Museum, 2019.
– Arturo Herrera