The Delineation (Juegos Fronteras) exhibit at monOrchid represents the stark political artistry of Angel Cabrales. Raised in “the border town of El Paso, Texas” Cabrales’ work is a large scale installation of works centered around the encroachment of violence and surveillance into the unexpected realm of a childhood playground.
Filling the room are items familiar from a childhood playground, a slide, jungle gym, swing set. The difference is a hyper-presence of cameras, barbed-wire and chain link fence surrounding, and in some instances, completely blocking access to the equipment. With a dark prescience, Cabrales’ use of excess highlights the way in which this type of “security” has become a normalized force in our everyday world.
The large scale installation is flanked by multi-media frames holding various kinds of firearms, both handguns and more grim-looking assault rifles equipped with laser light scopes. The weapons seem to melt and splatter into the canvas, a visual that evokes the kind of bodily damage these guns can inflict.
According to the artist’s statement, Cabrales returned to where he used to play as a child, only to discover “the area was split in half by a border wall.” In a time of economic instability fueling increased nationalism, with our tendency to entrench in fixed ideas of “us” and “them,” it is unsettling to witness an encroachment of violence into the seemingly pure world of childhood and play.
The palpable menace of cameras and fences is compounded by the guns pointed at the playground equipment. Perhaps Cabrales’ choice to change the color of the light coming from the rifle scope from red to blue reflects a sensitivity to the lived reality of his audience, who have likely encountered aggressive police presence, invasive border inspections, or who are simply still uncomfortable with this future of fear slowly being built up around us.
Cabrales work shows a dystopian future, one where “metaphorical restrictions... cripples the ability of those inside to truly experience the freedom and joys the grounds encourage.” Ultimately, Juegos Fronteras uses the visually violent hyperbole of “border games” to warn of a possible future, and hopefully to galvanize recognition and resistance.