“My Future Is Here” is a site-specific project that brings to light the most pressing issues immigrant youth face when making a new life in the global city. Produced with collaborating students from Flushing International High School in Queens, New York, this multimedia project utilizes immigrant narratives and social intervention to encourage public participation and exchange. Collaborating students will act as experts and consultants on critical immigration issues from the youth perspective, informing the project’s content and conceptual framework.
A primary component of this project will be a multimedia installation designed to integrate with the physical infrastructure of Flushing International High School. Video, audio, and text created with the students will be strategically installed in specific exterior and interior locations throughout the building, creating experiential media spaces for guests to move through. The main themes of the installation will center on issues of identity, representation, interpersonal ethics, and claiming one’s civic and political presence as an immigrant and social actor.
Ongoing workshops with students will inform the second element of the project, which will be an ad hoc public service organization operating under the name Hospitality Services. This element will address various issues that arise in the process of immigration and encourage hospitality toward the stranger. Through socially engaged art practices and interventions, we seek to aid the newcomer in navigating the foreign social, cultural, and geographic landscapes of the city. Projects will include creating information cards for the public that encourage convivial encounters with a foreigner, as well as a specially designed, youth-authored “Immigrant’s Guide to New York City” that will contain information on important and useful places, tips on utilizing public services, hand drawn neighborhood maps, as well as advice on how to foster a healthy quality of living. Through these services, we envision and manifest new forms of belonging and sociality in an increasingly globalized world.
The culmination of the project will be an installation-event held at the school in June 2012 when the work will be installed and the invited public, which will include FIHS families and friends, city council members, activists, artists, and immigrant youth leadership groups, will have the opportunity to speak with the students about the issues they are most deeply invested in. Youth-facilitated conversations will create a platform for productive exchange that deepens public understanding and awareness of immigrant youth issues, and furthers the discussion on what we can do to foster more inclusive societies, as well as social and political change for the immigrant.
This project is founded upon the perspective that the languages and practices of immigration rights are critically indicative of a society’s notion of itself, and that public discourses and interactions through facilitated situations of encounter and mediated spaces of affective experience can foster productive collective investigations, imaginaries, and intersubjective exchange concerning the treatment of the (perceived) foreigner in our midst. By placing oneself within the public sphere whether through physical face-to-face interaction with another, or through the mediated spaces of an installation, the immigrant youth asserts her own subjectivity into the public imaginary, shifting the terms of engagement to make space for new voices to be heard.