Border Cantos | Sonic Border: Richard Misrach | Guillermo Galindo

February 12–May 9, 2021

Border Cantos | Sonic Border is a unique and moving collaboration between photographer Richard Misrach (born in Los Angeles, 1949) and sculptor and composer Guillermo Galindo (born in Mexico City, 1960) that addresses the humanitarian situation at the wall between the US and Mexico.

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Misrach and Galindo began collaborating in 2011, after both artists had created bodies of work inspired by the Mexican-American border region and its human impact. Presented in English and Spanish, Border Cantos offers perspective on the challenges of migration, inviting us to bridge boundaries.

Misrach’s large-scale photographs beautifully capture the various types of landscapes, textures, and experiences found across the almost 2,000-mile dividing line, including the existing wall. But, by showing moments of disruption on the land, they also introduce a complicated look at policing the boundary. Guillermo Galindo’s installation, Sonic Border, is an original score for eight instruments, created out of discarded objects found and collected near the wall or in remote open areas.

The composition embraces the pre-Columbian belief that there was an intimate connection between an instrument and the material from which it was made, with no separation between spiritual and physical worlds. Based on the Mesoamerican “Venus calendar,” the score plays for a total of 260 minutes and is separated into 13 cycles of 20 minutes. Within these cycles, the instruments play in small groups of two or more, or all together as an orchestra.

When experienced as a whole, the images, instruments, and emanating sounds create an immersive space in which to look, listen, and learn about the complex issues surrounding the Mexican-American border. While neither artist seeks to provide solutions to these issues, together they provide insight into a place where most people have never ventured, creating a poignant connection that draws on our humanity, inspires empathy, and provides ways to contribute to better outcomes.

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About the Artists

Richard Misrach is one of the most influential photographers of his generation, well-known for his ongoing project Desert Cantos. His work is held by major institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. He is the recipient of four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Kulturpreis for Lifetime Achievement in Photography. His other books with Aperture include Violent Legacies (1992), On the Beach (2007), Destroy This Memory (2010), Petrochemical America (with Kate Orff, 2012), Golden Gate (2012), and The Mysterious Opacity of Other Beings (2015). He is represented by Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Mark Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles; and Pace/MacGill, New York.

Guillermo Galindo is an experimental composer. His interpretations of concepts such as musical form, time perception, music notation, sonic archetypes, and sound-generating devices span a wide spectrum of artistic works performed and shown at major festivals, concert halls, and art exhibitions throughout the United States, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. His orchestral composition includes two symphonies: Ome Acatl, premiered in Mexico City by the Orquesta Filarmónica de la UNAM (OFUNAM, 1997), and Trade Routes (2006), commissioned and premiered by the Oakland East Bay Symphony orchestra and chorus. His operas include two major works: Califas 2000, with text and performance by MacArthur Fellow Guillermo Gómez-Peña, and Decreation/Fight Cherries, with text by MacArthur Fellow poet Anne Carson.


The exhibition is accompanied by a 270-page publication, Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo: Border Cantos, featuring photographs and text by Richard Misrach; instruments, sound installations, scores, and text by Guillermo Galindo; and an introduction and epilogue by Josh Kun, an award-winning cultural historian, critic, and curator. Published by Aperture in April 2016.


Border Cantos | Sonic Border is organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Support provided by Art Bridges.


The Teaching Artist-in-Residence for Border Cantos | Sonic Border: Richard Misrach | Guillermo Galindo is Erika Harrsch. Learn more about the Residency Program here.

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Richard Misrach. Wall, Los Indios, Texas (El muro, Los Indios, Texas), 2015. Pigment print. 58 1/2 × 78 1/4 in. (148.6 × 198.8 cm). Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2017.11. Photo: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. © Richard Misrach, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles.

Selected Press

Deconstructing Borders: Capturing Sights and Sounds from La Frontera ArtsWestchester (March 25, 2021) ↗
Yonkers Exhibit Examines U.S.-Mexico Border Struggle, Through Photos, Music The Journal News (March 1, 2021) ↗
‘It Just Keeps Haunting You’: Watch Photographer Richard Misrach Document the Beauty and Horror of the US-Mexico Border Artnet News (February 25, 2021) ↗
Union of Sound and Vision Humanizes Border Issues The Rivertowns Enterprise (February 12, 2021) ↗
Cultural Events & Art Exhibitions Cultural Pursuit (February 2021) ↗
Richard Misrach | Guillermo Galindo @ Hudson River Museum F-Stop Magazine (January 29, 2021) ↗