In “Thalweg,” Lisa Alvarado contemplates the politics of borders—and what it means to cross them. The Chicago-based musician and artist is known for blending visual and auditory elements in her installations; likewise, on view at Bridget Donahue, the show tends toward an immersive environment as it combines free-hanging paintings and photos with sound and sand.
In a statement about the exhibition, Alvarado calls attention to an under-recognized chapter in the history of mass deportation in the United States from the 1930s, when the government deported as many as two million people of Mexican descent, more than half of whom were American citizens, in a program now known as the Mexican Repatriation.
The term ‘thalweg’ describes the lowest elevation within a body of water, especially a river. In modern geopolitics, it’s become a reference point at which governing entities legally demarcate borders that are not on land.
Lisa Alvarado, Thalweg (Traditional Object), 2020. Acrylic on canvas, wood, 75 × 81 inches. © Lisa Alvarado, courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue, NYC. Photo: Tom Vaneynde.