WE ARE HUMAN / SOMOS HUMANOS: A Decade of Demonstrations from 2010 – 2019: José Torres-Tama
Images of Public Protests & Photo Assemblages
Zoom Live Artist Talk: Weds, December, 9 2020, 6-7pm
Virtual Exhibition: Dec 9, 2020 – Feb 9, 2021
From 2010 to 2019, multidisciplinary award-winning performance and visual artist José Torres- Tama photographed the many public protests of the Congress of Day Laborers / El Congreso de Jornaleros, and this virtual exhibition of 20 striking images from this decade-long documentation project chronicles the Latin American reconstruction workers who have rebuilt New Orleans in the 15 years post-Katrina. Immigrant workers have given their blood, labor, and love to the rebirth of this port city, and this series captures their street protests as resistance to rampant human rights violations, wage theft by ruthless contractors, and brutal deportations by local ICE Agents.
The recent 2018 Tricentennial anthology published by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) disappeared Latin American immigrants from local history, and this photographic exhibition challenges a state arts agency that has culturally deported the most valuable contributors to the resurrection of the Big Easy.
Immigrants have been rendered invisible in the LEH’s version of this city’s three hundred Eurocentric years, and their anthology titled New Orleans & the World 1718- 2018 is exemplary of the historical erasures of people of color in this country’s history. Torres-Tama’s photographs chronicle a heroic people in a city with a long Latin legacy. Hard Living in the Big Easy: Immigrants & the Rebirth of New Orleans Post-Katrina is his forthcoming book of these photographs with his writings on the epic reconstruction.
“It’s Executive Editor and Executive Publisher have committed an egregious cultural crime against our Latin American immigrant community, and during an era of raging anti-immigrant hysteria, the LEH and its editor have become white gatekeepers deciding who shall be remembered and who shall be forgotten. Deporting our immigrant community from the history of
New Orleans is simply inhumane, and they need to re-brand themselves as the Louisiana Endowment for the Inhumanities.” —José Torres-Tama
Some images are developed into mixed media assemblages or Photo Retablos created from re-purposed wooden drawers found on the streets after the storm. These photo assemblages are mini altars to honor the valiant Congress of Day Laborers and their children, who are bearing witness to the persecution of their parents. A moving second-hand clock is placed at various points of each photo image, representing the beating heart of immigrants working in the shadows. Latin American immigrants in New Orleans
face a clear and present danger of brutal deportations with political zealots pimping fear and hatred of immigrants.
Jose Torres-Tama, photographer and performance artist, will offer an Artist Talk about the photo series at 6pm on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, and will include a mini-performance tribute to the Latin American immigrant community and Congress of Day Laborers that are the inspiration of this ten-year photo documentation project.