U.S.-Mexico border holds tragic immigrant stories. A new L.A. exhibition lets them speak for themselves. Why they should matter
In a city where no one looks like himself, a Mexican national named Juan, 23, has made himself a household name.
Juan was arrested with hundreds of other Central American children and teens living on L.A.’s streets in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Mexico, where they had hoped to find an escape from poverty and violence. His case became a touchstone for advocates for immigrant children, and he emerged from prison as a local hero.
Now Juan is the focus of an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, which opens Friday. The show features more than 2,500 photographs of the children and teens, many of whom are in foster care.
The images are more than images, and they tell something of the lives and deaths of these children.
Juan, 23, is the focus of an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. (Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles)
‘For all of you it’s personal,’ organizers say. ‘I want you to really see your lives reflected. Your lives are not your lives, but these lives are yours. You are not just someone who is here or just a person in their life. They are all you.’ (Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles)
It is now a matter of a lifetime, and for many, even a life. But, in that lifetime, they could have been here, too. The stories of the people who live and die in these images of them are more than images. They are the stories of how they died, and how much they lived.
Juan is the focus of the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. (Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles)
It’s almost like it just came out of the ground here, a couple of months ago, as an exhibit, as an idea, as an idea that there