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Recent Works by Steven Gagnon

Steven Gagnon. Border Cruiser, 2007. Video installation. Photo by Simon Hare. Courtesy of the artist

Art@Work - Miami

January 31 - April 30, 2009


By Janet Batet

Steven Gagnon’s Border Cruiser has been running around since 2007. Participating in important art events such as Art Basel Miami Beach, his patrol car has been exhibited at Locus Project in Miami, the Art Car Museum in Houston, in the Twelfth International FotoFest Biennial, and lately as part of his “Recent Work” exhibition at Art@Work.

The show is composed by two groups. Inside the gallery, Gagnon presents a photographic series of undocumented immigrant sellers, who looking for a better life, are attracted by the First World’s most representative cities such as New York, Paris, Rome, or Venice. They try to survive by selling unlicensed copies of emblematic monuments to avid tourists hunting for souvenirs.

Ironically, these surreptitious sellers -who don’t like to be captured by the eye of the camera-, are spreading their testimony throughout the world, enclosed in these illegal copies that talk about their plight. When a tourist buys one of these banned copies, they are buying an added value as well: these fake, illegal, prohibited souvenirs are somehow the most vivid identity of the undocumented immigrant, forced by his own illegal status to the forbidden. 

In the parking lot, close to the transited Galloway Road, Steven Gagnon’s Border Cruiser draws the attention of curious visitors that take the tour around the car listening to the testimony projected on the rear windows.  His Border Cruiser is a video installation in a former police car; he was inspired after talking with illegal immigrants in New York City in 2007.

Steven Gagnon has been working on these interdisciplinary video installation cars since 2005, when he presented in Berlin his multi-media sculpture Eins Werden. Created through the fusion of automotive parts from the former East and West Germany, Gagnon summarized -through the car as a distinctive symbol of the German Nation- the whole post-World War II German history and reunification. One year later, in 2006, the artist presented to us at Fountain Miami and PalmBeach3, the Time Machine. This autobiographical multi-media installation makes reference to Gagnon’s own experience as the son of a third generation auto mechanic and his employment in a body shop as an adolescent. The epistolary communication between Gagnon’s grandparents pays homage to the perseverance and love that keep families at the distance together.

In 2007 Gagnon presented his new multi-media sculpture production at Fountain NY: Around the World in a NYC Taxi. This time using the paradigmatic yellow cab, the artist presents various discussions with NYC taxi drivers.

All these projects are projected in a loop inside the gallery. Thus, the spectator may retrace the trajectory of this artist and his multi-media artifacts. Outside, the Border Cruiser highlights the tribulations of undocumented immigrants’ journeys, one of the most sensitive social issues in America today.


Janet Batet: Independent art critic and curator. BA in Art History (University of Havana); MA in Multimedia (UQAM University, Montreal)

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