Film Screening: Through the Repellent Fence
Documentary | 74 minutes | 2017
Directed by Sam Wainwright Douglas
Raven Chacon (of Postcommodity) in attendance
Through the Repellent Fence follows art collective Postcommodity as they strive to construct Repellent Fence, a two-mile long outdoor artwork that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border. Postcommodity consists of three Native American artists who “put land art in a tribal context.” Aided by the communities on both sides of the border in 2015 the artists installed a series of 28 huge inflatable spheres emblazoned with an insignia known as the “open eye” that has existed in Indigenous cultures from South America to Canada for thousands of years. The spheres were evenly spaced apart and extended north and south of the border a mile in each direction. “It’s a metaphorical suture stitching together cultures that have inhabited these lands long before borders were drawn.”
The film provides an intimate glimpse into the arduous process behind creating an ambitious artwork that will give voice to the shared history and enduring culture of Indigenous societies that have made the region their home for thousands of years before a border ever divided it. Woven throughout this narrative thread are lush scenes using stunning cinematography to absorb viewers into striking land art environments that have preceded Postcommodity’s work. Scenes with other artists and intellectuals working in the land art realm provide context and insight as well. These include scenes with Chris Taylor of Texas Tech University’s Land Arts of the American West program, writer Lucy Lippard and Matt Coolidge of the Center for Land Use Interpretation.
Through the Repellent Fence is an adventure in the artistic process, blended with a road trip of discovery, visiting sites and exploring diverse perspectives to look at how land art can generate community interaction and perceptual shifts in how we interpret, engage, and draw inspiration from our natural world.