DISAPPEARED IN AMERICA
How Does It Feel To Be A Problem?
A Project by Visible Collective
March 25 - May 28, 2006
Opening Reception on Saturday March 25th, 4-6pm
Project Row Houses, 2500 Holman Street, 3rd Ward, Houston TX
Free & Open to the Public
Press Contact: Robert Pruitt, 713.526.7662, firstname.lastname@example.org
Visible Collective uses films, installations, & lectures to trace migration impulses, hyphenated identities and security panic. The majority of Muslim migrants detained in post-9/11 sweeps for terrorists were from the invisible underclass of cities. They are the recent immigrants who drive our taxis, deliver our food, clean our restaurant tables, and sell fruit, coffee, and newspapers. The only time we "see" them is when we glance at the hack license in the taxi partition, or the ID card around the neck of a vendor.
The detained are usually men, in various states of "illegal" status, easily dismissed as "law breakers." Finally, when deported, they cease to exist in the American consciousness. This desire to create a sinister insider-outsider with dubious "loyalty" has a long, vicious pedigree, witness the 1919 detention of 10,000 immigrants after anarchists bombed the Attorney General's home; the 1941 internment of 110,000 Japanese-Americans; the COINTELPRO infiltration of the Black Panthers; the surveillance and harassment of African-American political groups like Deacons for Defense; the trial and execution of the Rosenbergs; and the HUAC Communist Witch Hunts under Senator McCarthy.
WEB Dubois asked in The Soul Of Black Folk, "How Does It Feel To Be A Problem?" South Asian scholar Vijay Prashad analyzed how the American power structure positions Asian migrants as "model minorities" and asked, "How Does It Feel To Be A Solution?" (in The Karma Of Brown Folk). Today, after 9/11, the "model minority" myth is shattered as South Asian, Arab and other migrant groups find themselves targets of racial profiling masquerading as patriotism. The techniques of racial profiling, discrimination and criminalization that are extensively practiced on African-Americans are now extended to cover a new set of "dangerous communities."
The project is one of several that are part of the 22nd round of artists projects at Project Row Houses, where organizations that are part of "Shifting Sands Communities - Art, Culture & Neighborhood Change," were invited to exhibit works that indicated their approach to using arts for community development. This initiative, funded by the Ford Foundation and managed by Partners for Livable Communities, is part of a movement that recognizes neighborhood based arts & cultural organizations as unique stakeholders in poor neighborhoods experiencing economic and demographic shifts.
About the Visible Collective
Visible is an artist-activist collective directed by Naeem Mohaiemen (filmmaker, writer). Members include Anandaroop Roy (cartographer, web designer), Jeeyun Ha (sculptor), Vivek Bald (musician, filmmaker), Donna Golden (film editor), JT Nimoy (software coder), Aziz Huq (lawyer), Aimara Lin (civil rights activist), Anjali Malhotra (filmmaker), Kristofer Dan-Bergman (photographer), Sarah Olson (radio reporter), and Sehban Zaidi (filmmaker).
The Project Row House version of this project was installed by Naeem Mohaiemen, with Jaishri Abichandani and Prerana Reddy (Queens Museum of Art) and Houston resident Prince V. Thomas. Additional assistance by Rick Lowe (Project Row House) and Solomon (B&B Welding).
The original project was commissioned by Queens Museum of Art, for the exhibtion Fatal Love: South Asian American Arts Now curated by Jaishri Abichandani and Prerana Reddy.
For more information about the project visit www.DisappearedInAmerica.org or email
For more information about the co-presenting organizations visit: