The plural pronoun in Estamos contra el muro | We Are Against the Wall, the title of Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik’s recent exhibition at San Francisco nonprofit Southern Exposure, was no casual stylistic decision.
The installation of hundreds of handmade brick-shaped piñatas, assembled to mimic the border wall between the United States and Mexico, was a deeply collaborative cross-cultural project -- spearheaded by Bhaumik, yes, but realized by countless artists, makers and community members.
Bhaumik, the first-generation daughter of two immigrants (her father is from West Bengal, her mother is Japanese Colombian), constantly seeks out intersections between communities of color in her artistic practice, whether those intersections occur in food, physical space, or social and political causes.
For We Are Against the Wall, Bhaumik’s collaborators hailed from as far away as Mexico to as close as Noe Valley; each held a personal stake in the project. Victor Martínez at Oakland’s Piñatas Las Morenitas fabricated most of the gray tissue-paper-covered blocks, with his partner Francisco León. Miniature piñatas by Isaías D. Rodríguez, aka the Little Piñata Maker, provided a scale model of presidential nominee Donald Trump’s proposed expansions to the existing border wall. And throughout the exhibition, a soundtrack of migration-themed songs selected by La Pelanga DJ collective filled the gallery space.