Zero Tolerance

v1.0 by: Michael Takeo Magruder, 2018

A media installation exploring the context and rhetoric surrounding the separation and detention of migrant families crossing the US southern border.

Installation Documentation:

About the Artwork:

On the 6th of April 2018, the Office of the Attorney General of the United States of America issued a memorandum for all federal prosecutors working along the nation’s southwest border. The stated purpose of the communiqué was “to adopt immediately a zero-tolerance policy for all offenses referred for prosecution” under Title 8 of US Code section 1325(a) concerning illegal entry into the country by “alien” persons for reasons of “improper time or place; avoidance of examination or inspection; [and] misrepresentation and concealment of facts”.

In the following weeks, alongside growing domestic and international concern about the detrimental effects on migrant families attempting to cross the border, the government’s stance was widely defended by the heads of various US agencies and departments responsible for implementation of the programme. During the first two months of the policy being in effect, more than 2,500 children were forcibly separated from their families and relocated to over one hundred detainment facilities spread throughout the country. Amidst the conflicting accounts and reports put forward by numerous government and media sources commenting on the crisis, the fate of many of these children remains an open question.

Zero Tolerance is a new media installation that explores the context and rhetoric surrounding the separation and incarceration of migrant families crossing the US southern border. Set behind chain-link fence and alongside mundane artefacts associated with the detention centres, an algorithmic video continually splices official government footage and undercover recordings from actual detainment facilities with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ public speech calling for ‘biblical’ justice.

Source Material (for algorithmic video):

• recorded broadcast of former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ public speech in Fort Wayne, Indiana on 14/06/2018 addressing criticisms of the US Administration’s zero-tolerance policy

• official government video documentation by US Border Patrol showing the detention centre in McAllen, Texas that was released on 17/06/2018

• audio recording of children detained within a US Customs and Border Protection facility that was obtained by the non-profit media organisation ProPublica and published on 18/06/2018

Digital Media Documentation:

In Dialogue with:

Prof Aaron Rosen [ curation ]

With Thanks to:

v1.0: Sherri Cornett [ curation ] . Rev Dr Carolyn Rosen [ funding and theological reflection ] . Shane de Leon (Kirks’ Grocery) and Shawna Hartnett [ installation space ] . Jares Fence Company [ installation materials ] . Brian Scott [ installation support ]

Supported by:

Zero Tolerance is a 2018 commission for Undocumented curated by Prof Aaron Rosen and Sherri Cornett. It was made possible with funding from the Bishop Fox Company and an E-21 grant from the Episcopal Evangelism Society, and generous support from Kirks’ Grocery (gallery), Jares Fence Company, and Rocky Mountain College, Billings, Montana.

Artwork Requirements:

Site-configurable new media installation constructed from: algorithmic video and soundscape (Flash executable, Windows 10 micro-computer, 1080p projection and stereo audio system); chain-link fence structure, mundane artefacts as found in US migrant detention centres (mylar emergency blankets, foam bedrolls, used water/juice bottles, generic cleaning supplies and items, etc); and printed copies of official US government documents relating to the separation and detention of migrant families.

Research Documents:

Video Documentation:

© TAKEO 2018