Examining the border crisis through the lens of performance art

March 13, 2024
Emma Horio I UCLA

Doctoral student Salvador Herrera considers a world beyond boundaries

Salvador Herrera’s research occupies the space between reality and speculation.

Herrera, a UCLA doctoral candidate in English, studies how literature and performance art can both confront the existing violence of the U.S. border apparatus and imagine a more equitable world.

When Herrera arrived at UCLA in 2018, he planned to pursue a dissertation project in literary studies. But those plans shifted after his social media algorithms began serving him troves of content about local artists whose work confronted the conditions at the U.S.–Mexico border.

One example was a Snapchat video of a transgender artist who uses the name Muxxxe. Festooned in white crosses that obscure their face, Muxxxe walks slowly along the border wall as the sun beats down, haunting music playing in the background.

“I saw this art, and I was captivated by it,” Herrera said. “It was very provocative, and I couldn’t make sense of it — but I knew it was important.”

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(Photo courtesy of Salvador Herrera)