The Borderlands Archive is an active collection of research, mappings and contributed artifacts from the U.S.- Mexico borderlands that symbolize connection across territorial divide. Collected objects and information represent physical, social, political and environmental connections that form a counter-narrative, or collective public record about a contested space between two countries. 

The Place Where Flags Wave by Jason Reed, 2020

Item name: The Place Where Flags Wave
Description/Materials:  Serial publication that activates government pictures from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection official archive hosted on Flickr.
Contributed by: Jason Reed 
Location: Photographs represent the entirety of the U.S. / Mexico borderlands
Date Collected: Books published starting in 2019. The photographs date from 2006-2017.

What cross-border connection(s) does this artifact represent?:

Thepictures collected here represent evidence of the machine that has long attempted to block cross-border connections.

The Border Patrol Flickr page contains morethan 13,000 images taken by public affairs staff using professional camera equipment and
field agents with cell phone cameras, ranging from staged events to candid moments, political gestures to prized intercepts. The moments the border patrol chooses to show conveniently heighten a sense of
danger and market the need for a more secure border while mythologizing their actions as heroic. These books are a recontextualization of the government photographs made and distributed by the Border Patrol, re-presented through selective grouping and
sequencing to create a new critical context.

Over the past 5 years, I have been ritually checking for new pictures on the Flickr site, downloading the photographs and compiling an archive. Each volume in The Place Where Flags Wave Series is constructed around certain themes that I have seen across th thousands of pictures. There are currently 2 volumes, with an undefined and essentially infinite number of volumes to come.

Scrutinizing these border patrol pictures will not in itself change the situation on the border. I believe looking critically, particularly within our current political context, opens space for one to grapple with their own position in relation to the web of events,
places, and people articulated by the government’s camera.


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