"Dog Days on the Chaparral" is an installation comprised of three photographic sculptures made in response to the question, “where are you from?” Although I define myself as both Portuguese and American, as someone who immigrated as a child, my identification as either ebbs and flows. The work embodies this slipperiness — a complicated emotional geography. To do so, I fabricate sculptures, which collage images of two landscapes, the California chaparral and Portuguese montado, as proxies for these two homes and identities. I employ vernacular building materials, such as lumber and common fasteners, to create a literal and conceptual framework to which I affix an arrangement of contoured photographs. Hacking together disparate materials and technologies to create multi-layered sculptures reflects the Sisyphean efforts made to collage together a sense of home and belonging. The resulting photo objects are both visual and haptic and function as icons or shrines soliciting quiet contemplation of a place just beyond reach. When I contemplate these photo objects, I reflect on my family, our history, in this country and the old country and collapse the distance between me and that narrative. Although the body of work is rooted in my idiosyncratic immigration experience, it reflects a wider migrant narrative. It may take generations for migrants and their descendants to feel grounded again when forces like poverty and conflict cause homes and nations to crumple like paper.
- Hugo Teixeira, an MFA in Photography and Related Media candidate, on his thesis work.