Mia / 2022
Mia is an interactive immersive installation consisting of sculpture, video, and sound by Brooklyn based artist Zac Hacmon.
Mia is the culmination of a two-year socially engaged project by the artist that comprises urban research, social work, and a one-year collaboration between Hacmon and Alexa, an asylum-seeking transgender woman who is currently waiting for her immigration status trial in New York City. Originally from Nicaragua, Alexa fled to the U.S. due to political reasons after the 2018 protests in her country.
The artist and Alexa met through a workshop initiative at the RDJ Refugee Shelter—a non-profit organization in New York City serving exclusively asylum seekers and refugees. The initiative created a meaningful ongoing space for healing and dialogue inspiring Hacmon to engage Alexa in a creative collaboration with Alexa receiving an honorarium for her time, as well as social support to enable her as a key collaborator in the artist’s project. The show’s title, Mia, is named after Alexa's daughter who still lives in Nicaragua.
Mia is intended to portray imaginary, mental, political, and geopraphical boundaries that transform into intimate conversations that narrate Alexa's life story. It is a fictional environment where cultures and diversity meet in one place. The viewer enters a dark atmosphere filled with massive sculptures resembling air ventilation shafts and the sound of voices emanating from speakers within the shafts.
One of the recordings features Alexa’s voice reciting poems she’s dedicated to her daughter and mother by Nicaraguan authors Ruben Dario and Claribel Alegria—both politically and socially influential voices in the development of Nicaragua and Latin America since the 1900s. The second audio is from a video that includes footage of Alexa wearing a traditional Nicaraguan dress and dancing to La Cumbia Chinandegana by Jorge Paladino, a well-known Nicaraguan singer from her hometown of Chinandega. For Alexa to wear a Nicaraguan traditional dress is a conscious political statement to raise the voice of Nicaraguan refugees, underrepresented minorities, and LGBTQ+ asylum seekers who experience even harder conditions due to their sexual orientation.
The sculptures resembling air ventilation shafts follow the form of institutional architecture inspired by writings of ‘Non- Places' by Marc Augé –architecture that has no history or identity. One of the units in the show is an interactive architectural structure, where viewers are invited to go in. It is part of Hacmon's ongoing series of structures best described as a one person living unit=Home, shelter or cell. Once inside the unit in the show, the viewer feels the lack of identity, however the refugees’ identity is flourishing. Mia simultaneously conveys a sense of belonging and non- belonging, entrapment and freedom.
This project was selected as part of the annual Open Call for proposals for the Project Room and selected by a review panel of past exhibiting artists including Bethany Collins, Christina Pettersson, and Simón Vega in a process overseen by Locust Projects' Co-founder Elizabeth Withstandley.