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Idyllwild Arts Foundation and the Native American Arts Center is pleased to present Erika Harrsch: Moving in the Borderlands in the Parks Exhibition Center. The exhibition investigates the artist’s work in the context of the border and issues of migration, immigration, and their various impacts on people, the land, and culture.  Harrsch’s work will redress the notion of connectivity threading together works the artist has created over time, giving space to both the narrative frameworks of each work as well as how they sit together to form a meta narrative. 


Entering the exhibition, you encounter United States of North America Passport; an installation which compresses the viewer into a passport office. However, in this passport office Harrsch interrogates the arbitrary borders between the Canada and the United States, the United States and Mexico – expanding the territories into an imagined United States of North America. In this, Harrsch calls into question the North American Free Trade Agreement – which allows for the transport of goods across national lines – privileges, however, not afforded to people. 


Dissecting the exhibition into two halves is a fiber installation, Shrouded Sky, that simulates the bifurcation of the border wall. This work, made in collaboration with students from Idyllwild Arts Academy illustrates the ominous imposition of the wall as well as illuminates its porosity. The work, while approaching it, looms over the viewer, stained with oxide colored paint – however, upon moving closer – glimpses of sky and light emerge – inviting the viewer to pass through the wall and emerge on the other side to discover Eros Thanatos and Currency Butterflies – two installations hinged on the monarch butterfly and its intrepid migration between Canada and México. 


The exhibition looks at hospitality; what that means and how it means in the context of transnational movement, knowledge systems, cultural identity, community, and separation through the intersection of civilizations. Harrsch confronts issues effecting and affecting people in the current age, histories that have informed these narratives, and looks for connection points and gateways of understanding.


Born in Mexico City, Harrsch has lived in several cities throughout the country, as well as Italy, Germany, and Brazil; for the past twenty-one years she has lived and worked in New York City. She has been defined as a multidisciplinary artist, employing traditional mediums along with new media and technologies to articulate her concepts and interests.


The formal aspects of her oeuvre and languages investigate diverse fields to achieve visual, multisensory, and interactive experiences: a comprehensive reflection about the body and identity, sexuality, desire, the space that defines us and the one we wish for, the limits and vertiginous freedom that lead to a continuous corporeal and ideological migration. Harrsch’s solid background as a painter has been essential and visible in her aesthetic process, and her artwork is continually being filtered through images, the representation of the object, spaces, and colors; the work stems from experimentation and the processes themselves, and only later becomes articulated. These visual and formal processes are infused with multilayered references, a complex weave of the strata of meanings, which in turn make possible the extraction of multiple readings and narratives concerned with individual and cultural preoccupations, as well as critical social, political, and environmental issues.


For over six years she has included entomology research as part of her work, using butterflies as a metaphor for themes such as gender, identity, migration, nationality, and the relationship human beings have with their own nature and fragility. Harrsch has expanded her trajectory to achieve authority status in a wide range of disciplines related to the production of multimedia art. She has established a fertile and captivating language, using tools such as painting, photography, video, animation, installation, interactive projects, and the production and direction of multimedia shows. For the past eight years her interdisciplinary practices have led to collaborations with well-known musicians and composers, including Philip Glass, cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, Claire Chase, Paola Prestini, and Maya Beiser, among others.


Erika Harrsch has been selected to participate in the B3 Frankurt Biennale for the moving image 2017, Fokus-Lodz Biennale, Lodz, Poland, 2010; 798 Biennale, Beijing, China, 2009; International Media Art Biennale, Seoul, South Korea, 2008; Fotofest Biennial, Houston, Texas, 2008; as well as the 6th and 7th FEMSA-Monterrey Biennial, Mexico, in 2003 and 2005.


Her work has been shown in galleries, festivals, and international artistic residencies, as well as the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York City), Museo del Barrio (New York City), Nevada Museum of Art (Reno, Nevada), Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, Connecticut), Neuberger Museum of Art (Purchase, NY), Bellevue Arts Museum (Bellevue, Washington), in the United States; Göteborg Konstmuseum, Sweden; Musée de la Photographie, Charleroi, Belgium; Seoul Museum of Art, South Korea; and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey (Nuevo León) and Museo de la Ciudad (Querétaro), in Mexico. Her work is included in numerous international public and private collections, including the Musée de la Photographie in Belgium, and the Eaton Corporation and the Fidelity Corporation in the United States.

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Image courtesy of Ha`a Keaulana 

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