NYC gallery displays wall of migrants’ backpacks, belongings

By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press

A Manhattan gallery is displaying a wall of 700 backpacks and belongings of migrants who illegally crossed the U.S. border. Some of them died in the Arizona desert.

“Now, more than ever, in the aftermath of a presidential campaign that fed off anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric, it is absolutely critical to look deeper into the migrant experience and raise questions as to what the future may hold for the thousands of people fleeing dire poverty, drug cartel violence, and political instability to the south,” said a statement from the curators of the exhibit that opened recently in the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center of The New School.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

“We built this wall of backpacks,” said artist and photographer Richard Barnes, who helped create the display.

The exhibit, called “State of Exception,” is the result of a project started at the University of Michigan by anthropologist Jason De Leon and expanded by Barnes and another artist and curator, Amanda Krugliak.

“With this exhibition, we are pleased to declare the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center galleries a state of inclusion in which migrants are welcome,” said Radhika Subramaniam, the center’s director and chief curator.