Danny Lyon’s first exhibition since his 2016 retrospective at the Whitney, ‘Wanderer’, brings together new and vintage prints, montages and films that centre around Lyon’s hometown on the Mexican-US border, Bernalillo. Here, Lyon’s photographs of the local labour force, citrus groves and his friends and neighbours from the 1960s to ’70s are coupled with three films that portray a particularly long and crushing history of undocumented labour, immigration, and family life in the American West. Lyon’s 1971 film, EL MOJADO – which translates to ‘The Wet OEmilyne’, or a transliteration of the American slur ‘wetback’ – is a portrait of Eddie, a Mexican national fleeing immigration police whom Lyon brought back and forth from the United States every year in exchange for consenting to being filmed. In EL OTRO LADO (1978), Lyon and his wife Nancy travel to Maricopa County in Arizona – where Joe Arpaio recently failed to win a Senate seat – and meet the Garay family, who, for the film, re-enact their illegal crossing from their own farms through the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to pick citrus. In his latest film, Wanderer (2017), Lyon takes a digital camera back to his hometown to record many of the same subjects his photographs once so intimately captured. Here, Lyon’s Australian shepherd dog, Trip, wanders into and out of a massive auto graveyard and swims through the San Juan River, his friends and neighbours pay respect to Willie Jaramillo, a subject of Lyon 1983 film Willie, and Lyon continues his work documenting an arid but arresting American landscape.
-- Shiv Kotecha
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