More about Matthew and Julie Chase-Daniel collaborations here.
Shadows of the Border Wall
A collaborative project
by Julie and Matthew Chase-Daniel
Since November 2019, Matthew and Julie Chase-Daniel have been making excursions along the US/Mexico Border to locations in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Mexico, to work on Direct Exposure, a collaboration that includes writings and large format cyanotype photos made with the sunlight and shadows cast in the USA by the border wall as it snakes some 1,900 miles from San Diego, CA/Tijuana, MX, to Brownsville, TX/ Matamoros, MX. Each image is a one-of-a-kind cyanotype, measuring 44” wide and 83” tall, on cotton fabric. The series will include images at 100-mile intervals, as well as vital points along the entire span of the border.
Direct Exposure represents elements in the natural landscape - from cacti to river grasses - and documents shadows cast by the structures that now exist along the border, old and new. The older sections of fence vary in height & density, and range from wire fences, to corrugated panels, vehicle barriers, and mesh, and include such materials as steel, concrete, natural boulders, and thick webs of razor wire, among others. The diversity of structures - and long spans of open space on land and down the middle of the Rio Grande River - is quickly being replaced by the monolithic 30’ high border wall now under construction.
Making the images is a practice of patience and devotion: we can only 'shoot' one single panel at a time from 10am-2pm on cloudless days, and will not know if we were successful until we ‘develop’ the images days or weeks later at home in our bathtub. It can take hours or days to scout our locations, which have included sites such as a desert oasis called Quitobaquito Spring in Arizona, the top of nearby Monument Hill, reachable only by foot, where land sacred to the Tohono O'odham is currently being blasted, or areas in New Mexico where landowners have raised their own funding to build sections of the wall to increase protection for their homes or businesses.
While the effect of the new wall on the indigenous land and ecology of the area is one of unmitigated harm, the experience of the human communities is widely divergent. Julie is working on a suite of documentary poems to serve as testimony, reflecting among other things, interviews with residents and visitors along the border, nature and wildlife research through multiple stays in wilderness locations along the border, and review of governmental policies related to construction of the new wall and approaches to management of official ports of entry.