El Chinero is a rugged hill in the desert, 140 km south of Mexicali in the Baja California region of Mexico. Nobody knows since when it bears its name, but everyone has heard of a tragic episode that took place here in 1916… Or were there many such episodes? A few years after the Mexican Revolution of 1910, a massive exodus took place within the country, as deportations and violence targeted Chinese and Asian migrants who had settled in Mexico for many decades. Despite a lack of documentation about the site, it is thought that many people died here while crossing the desert from mainland Mexico. Myth and identity, reality and fiction, ghosts and memory. El Chinero can in some way be seen as a monument to the memory of these forgotten, anonymous people while not officially being one. A site of tragedy with no traces nor remnants to be seen. How can one fill this memory void with images and artifacts in an attempt to construct an archive where none exists?
Born in Tehran, Iran, Bani Khoshnoudi grew up in the United States where she studied architecture, photography and film at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a filmmaker and visual artist whose work explores ideas of displacement, history of exile, violence, revolt and collective memory. In 2008, Bani was invited to the prestigious Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program in New York City. There she developed work in the form of video and sound installations, exploring the concept of the archive. Her work has been shown in museums and art centers like the Centre Pompidou, Fondation Cartier and Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, Serralves Foundation in Porto, and the Contemporary Art Museum of Zagreb. Her essay film, THE SILENT MAJORITY SPEAKS, was named one of the 10 essential films by French curator Nicole Benez and was included in the exhibit and book project Uprisings by French philosopher Georges Didi-Huberman for the Jeu de Paume Museum.
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