United States of North America Passport

Limited edition passport. Passport cover and pages. 5 3/4 x 4 inches / 14.5 x 10 cms, 2009

United States of North America Passport

Limited edition passport. Detail of some inside pages. 5 3/4 x 4 inches / 14.5 x 10 cms, 2009

Erika Harrsch suggests an American continent absent of geopolitical borders with her work United States of North America. She imagines a single unified realm encompassing the United States, Canada and Mexico, members of the North American Free Trade Agreement. To that end Harrsch has created an interactive installation whose centerpiece is an elaborately conceived passport. The passport features an original seal that combines symbols of the three countries and at its center, a monarch butterfly known for an epic annual migration between México and Canada, and a symbol of metamorphosis, freedom and hope. The interior pages contain texts on NAFTA, free trade, human rights and related topics, in place of visas and entry stamps. The passport itself is held in a vitrine, symbolizing its high value to an individual. Audience participation is essential to Harrsch’s installation. She invites viewers to spin a prize wheel for the chance to win a limited edition passport, a sardonic act connoting the lottery visas and the chance nature of illegal entry into the United States (one wheel segment contains the now-iconic silhouette of a running family, a symbol used on signage along the San Diego Freeway where immigrants have been struck by motorists) as well as the absurd logic of some immigration policies. - Elizabeth Ferrer, BRIC Contemporary Art Director -

Borderless United States of North America - ARTIST BOOK - WRITTEN CONTENT

United States of North America (2009) is a fictitious passport that joins the three NAFTA members passport's: Canada, USA, and México. It is an alternative vision that relates to my personal experience of being an immigrant. This piece was Influenced by my traveling between Mexico and the U.S. for the last eight years, working on a four year project filming the sanctuaries of the Monarch butterfly (known for its migrations between Canada and Central Mexico) and the intricate circumstances immigrants go through in order to get a U.S. Visa or resident permit. To create the cover image of the new passport, I joined the passport heraldics of the three countries. At the center the emblematic representation of the Monarch Butterfly, which belongs to the three nations, crossing freely without borders. All the symbols together form a distinctive badge of a nation, a new one unified and free. "United States of North America" expands the boundaries of these individual countries, questions the concept of nation, raises a conversation about immigration and reflects upon the outdated and incomplete NAFTA treaty. The monarch butterfly follows a mysterious progression that takes several generations to complete, they take advantage of each nation’s landscape for its life purposes; a linked reference with people's multi-national, multi-generational migrations that are increasing more in today's global world. A world in constant mobility where more people from many different countries are mixing and the idea of Nationality is diluting. We are no longer the Nation as it used to be, where citizens inhabiting the same territory were united by common descent, history, culture, or language.


Featuring Erika Harrsch "United of North America passport performance"
Sept 11th. Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at The University of Texas at El Paso.
United States Exhibition Opening
July 15 at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

The Aldrich will host an opening reception to introduce united states, a semester of solo exhibitions and artist's projects that approach both the nature of the United States as a country and "united states" as the notion of uniting separate forms, manners, or conditions of being. Subjects that are touched upon include history (and forgetfulness), war, political division, race, the economy, immigration, competition vs. cooperation, mythology, group psychology, the social contract, and consumerism. No one series of exhibitions can summarize the complexity of the meanings inherent in the concept of "united states," however the goal is not to provide closure, but rather to echo the belief that disparate entities united to form a whole are hopefully greater (and more profound) than the simple sum of parts. Twelve artist's projects that approach both the nature of the United States as a country and "united states" as the alliance of separate forms, entities, or conditions of being.Timed to coincide with the 2012 American election season, united states is presented at a time when political and social divisions in this country are readily apparent, and polarization on many major issues is at an historical high. United states includes projects by Jane Benson, Alison Crocetta, Celeste Fichter, Erika Harrsch, Sui Jianguo, Nina Katchadourian, Matthew Northridge, Risa Puno, John Stoney, Frances Trombly, Rosemary Williams, and Jenny Yurshansky, as well as solo exhibitions by Pedro Barbeito, Jonathan Brand, Brody Condon, Brad Kahlhamer, Brian Knep, Erik Parker, and Hank Willis Thomas.