Imaginary Lines begins with real-life storytelling about experiences that are simultaneously singular (the individual journey) and universal (the fears and hopes that drive migration). At a historical and political moment where immigration narratives are driven by political demagoguery and mainstream media’s reductive immigration reporting our hope is to use image-making technology to immerse viewers in essentially Human stories that would otherwise remain unheard.
The storytelling process arises from a collaboration with immigrant community members (Philadelphia and Baltimore), shared through conversations during a series of writing workshops. Paying homage to Jorge Luis Borges’s short story Las Ruinas Circulares (1940), the project relays immigrants’ stories of resilience, dreams, meaning, and identity. Participants explore their own border-crossing experiences through documentary and fictional renditions. These writings are brought together, creating a new tale, a people’s journey through migration. This narrative text is showcased within the film, animated across the border wall while a synced monologue narrates in Spanish with English subtitles.
Fragments of both real and fictionalized border crossing stories, collected from immigrant communities are woven together into an endless journey. Masses of monarch butterflies flutter across a Southwestern U.S. landscape as their migratory sanctuary is threatened by destruction.
This work uses the motif of the butterfly’s migration between the United States and Mexico. Monarch butterflies will be filmed at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, TX––a stop on the annual migration of millions of Monarch butterflies between the U.S. and Mexico. In 2017, The National Butterfly Center was designated for demolition by the Trump administration to make way for the US-Mexico border wall.
Filmed imagery of the monarch butterfly migration will be shown along with animated text-based accounts from immigrants, recalling their individual journeys across the border. These first-hand border-crossing accounts, assembled from a series of community writing workshops, cast immigrants’ journeys in mythological and metaphorical terms and imagines their words inscribed upon the walls of a nameless city resting alongside the border.