Skyward Type in the Fight for Immigrants’ Rights

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Instead of fireworks, typography took to the skies above 80 locations across the country this past weekend.

On July 3 and 4, fleets of sky writers brought “In Plain Sight” to detention centers, immigration courts, former internment camps, borders and other landmarks. Artists Cassils and rafa esparza led a network of 80 participating creatives, including Emory Douglas, Dread Scott, Patrisse Cullors and Zackary Drucker.

Their goal: Use the borderless sky “to make visible what is too often unseen and unspoken on the ground: the appalling, profoundly immoral imprisonment of immigrants.”

With 50,000 incarcerated immigrants nationwide—and perpetual reports of inhumane conditions, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic—the campaign seeks to amplify voices inside ICE facilities and direct people to organizations that are focused on supporting them, from The Haitian Bridge Alliance to the ACLU of Southern California.

“Immigration policy is moving in a notably dangerous direction—to criminalization, militarization, privatization and incarceration,” the group states. “Detention is one aspect of a set of inhumane immigration policies including deportation and the ignoring of laws relating to asylum and due process. Prompt action to release individuals from ICE detention is not only the humanitarian and moral course, but the most reasonable health intervention to prevent unnecessary deaths.”

The messages were written with water vapor, and to offset project’s carbon footprint, the team is planting a series of trees near detention centers nationwide.

For a comprehensive collection of the phrases that appeared coast to coast, click here.

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CARE NOT CAGES #XMAP : @osopepatrisse : Los Angeles – Over LA County Jail- shot from Griffith Observatory: July3 : Chris Mastro @kidmastro . We are honored to work with Patrisse- a fierce leader of the #blacklivematter movement. Her example of responding to injustice not with solely in anger but with dignity and unfettered dedication to breaking unjust systems Is the direction we need now. It is an honor to hold space in the sky with you Patrisse. . The liberation of immigrant, migrant communities, LGBTQI+ communities and Black communities are deeply bound together. The violence our communities suffer is rooted in white supremacy and colonization. We stand in solidarity with t
he Movement for Black Lives and their ongoing work for a just and free world. . ✊🏽YOU CAN HELP END IMMIGRANT DETENTION✊🏽 Go to: ✈️☁️*Join* the movement #FreeThemAll Campaign + #AbolishIce. ✈️☁️ . *Donate* to Immigrant Detention Bond funds . *Get to know* our partners in this effort: @migrantfreedom @detentionwatch @aclu_socal @haitianbridge @conmijente @familiatqlm @maketheroadnj @maketheroadny @raicestexas @carecen_la @culturestrike @the_ilrc @clinica_romero @laresistencianw @daylaborernetwork @elrescate_org @_salef @ciyja @inplainsightmap @tsuruforsolidarity @ic4ij @CEDIMAC1 @MexenEx @translatinacoalition . #closethecamps #abolishice #xmap

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Excerpt from the @nytimes Article. Shot from Cassils’s iPhone, looking over at Rafa in the parallel plane, at 10,000 feet above Adelanto Detention Center. . “ @Cassils artist We are also thinking of artists who have used the language of advertisement to get their points across. Artists like Lynda Benglis and Barbara Hammer. The AIDS Memorial Quilt was another important reference because it demonstrates how people can come together through a patchwork of activism. . Many artists involved with the project are also queer, which may or may not be a coincidence. We are thinking about the words of José Esteban Muñoz, who wrote in 2009 that “queerness exists for us as an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future.” We see a liberation for queer, migrant and Black communities as deeply bound together because they are all rooted in the issues of white supremacy and colonization. Our jobs as queer artists is to imagine the future. . @elrafaesparza And we are putting the proposal of care, which is central to many queer communities, at the forefront of this project. We want to imagine what care looks like for people who are impacted by migrant detention and Covid-19. . CASSILS Bringing the skytypers into the fold has also been a unique experience. And with some messages being written in Cree, Farsi and Urdu, this will likely be the first time many people will see their own languages in the sky. There has also been a challenge to imagine how to write languages in the sky that don’t use the Roman alphabet. Skytypers usually work in fleets of five planes each, so any image or letter must exist along a five-point matrix. For artists on the project, that means experimenting with the grid and drawing out words like “freedom” in Farsi or Urdu. It’s interesting to note the challenges of what we can pu
t into the sky, and how we might overcome those barriers.” . . #InPlainSight #XMAP #LookUp #FreeThemAll #AbolishICE #DefundHate #HomeisHere #HeretoStay #WithDACA #sisepuede #prisonindustrialcomplex #resist #closethecamps

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