Dreams and Silhouettes / Sueños y Siluetas
A Multidisciplinary Installation Giving Voice to Residents Living Under Threat of Deportation

Sueños y Siluetas es una instalación de actuación multidisciplinaria inspirada por comunidades de Tucson y comunidades fronterizas que viven la militarización, la detención y las deportaciones. Presentando historias escritas por Las Promotoras y miembros de la comunidad, en colaboración con artistas renombrados.

Dreams and Silhouettes/ Sueños y Siluetas is a multidisciplinary installation that offers a performative response to the detentions and deportations affecting local residents.  A collaboration led by director Denise Uyehara, video artist Adam Cooper-Terán, and filmmaker Jason Aragón of Pan Left Productions, the event incorporates interviews with Las Promotoras, the women who make up the educational community wing of Derechos Humanos.  The installation layers together stories from South Tucson residents with live performance, immersed in video projection by Cooper-Terán. The entire artistic team is comprised of award-winning Tucson artists: Yvonne Montoya, Marc Pinate, Ryan Pinto, Heather Gray, Sara Gonzalez, Frida Espinosa and Lawrence Gipe. Visual artists Melo Dominguez, Wesley Creigh and Christina Cárdenas paint live for the duration of the performance.

Performance at Global Justice Center, January 25, 2014. Photo by JP Westenskow

The Dreams and Silhouettes installation is a layered fusion of interviews, video documentation and live performance, creating an immersive experience for the audience.  As the audience enters the venue they are greeted by sweeping desert landscapes that fill the space.  They encounter a woman crouched in a cage who covers the metal bars of her prison with identification documents.  Then an ensemble of performers stand in front of a wall, as proxy for individuals who have been deported or detained, creating a series of shadows.  As each steps away, their shadow remains as a haunting reminder of someone who has been disappeared.  Their shadow “reverses” into a white shadow in the shape of a body and visual artists paint in this white shadow, completing an unrealized dream of this missing person.  Meanwhile, a man is interrogated by a virtual Border Patrol Agent and then joins a line of shackled performers who stand trial while a video of activists disrupting Operation Streamline busses plays. This sequence is collaged with courtroom drawings of Operation Streamline by artist Lawrence Gipe.  Meanwile, the infamous Border Patrol Trickster roves the audience, ready to deport someone at his discretion.

As the project developed, Las Promotoras were asked to explore their dreams and aspirations, and to write a letter to someone they loved as if their dream had come true.  The result is a collection of powerful “audio letters,” along with testimony from more conventional interviews, which create a through-line for the performance installation.  Some interviewees recount family and friends who have been detained and deported, and describe the stress and fear this has created in their community. One of the interviewees describes the risk she takes every time gets in the car to drive to work.  “I’m always praying,” she says, “Please God let me end this day – let me pick up my kids from school and [get] my husband to our home.”  She points out most documented people wouldn’t give it a second thought to drive to the pharmacy or a party at night.  “But for me,” she continues, “I’d rather wait until the next day,” rather than run the risk of being stopped by the police.

Show running time (including pre-show) is 70 minutes, followed by optional post-show discussion or panel with the artists.

Dreams/Sueños was created with support from the Tucson Pima Arts Council PLACE Grant and the national MAP Fund.  It premiered January 25, 2014 at the Global Justice Center in South Tucson and is now available for touring.

Latest Posts

Arizona Public Media ran a story on “Dreams & Silhouettes” for its Jan. 23rd edition of AZ Illustrated. Story by Mary Olivas, produced by Luis Carrion with videography by Andrew Brown.

“La Estrella” covers “Dreams / Silhuetas” for the bilingual edition of the Arizona Daily Star. Story by Joseph Trevino.

Art critic and journalist Margaret Regan writes about the latest production of “Dreams and Silhouettes” for the TWeekly, featuring interviews with Uyehara and her ensemble.