Juan Garcia Mosqueda, founder and owner of Chamber Gallery in Chelsea, recently posted the following account via Instagram. He recounts events that took place this past Friday as he attempted to enter the U.S. from Buenos Aires:
Dear Friends, This past Friday, February 24, 2017, I was denied entry into the United States—the nation where I have been legally residing for the past ten years. The procedure was dehumanizing and degrading every step of the way. After being escorted to the secondary inspection premises, I was brought down for interrogation where I was questioned under oath and threatened with the possibility of being barred from entering the country for five years. The border patrol officer denied me the right to legal counseling, arrogantly claiming that lawyers had no jurisdiction at the borders. Shortly after my sworn statement was delivered to the chief officer in charge, they informed me that I was not permitted to come into the country and, therefore, would be forced onto the return flight to Buenos Aires later that evening. During the following fourteen excruciatingly painful hours, I was prohibited from the use of any means of communication and had no access to any of my belongings, which were ferociously examined without any warrant whatsoever. I was deprived of food. I was frisked three times in order to go to the bathroom, where I had no privacy and was under the constant surveillance of an officer. Finally, I was escorted by two armed officers directly onto the plane and denied my documents until I reached my destination, Buenos Aires. This thirty-six hour nightmare is nothing but clear evidence of a deeply flawed immigration system in the United States, carried out by an administration that is more interested in expelling people than admitting them. I was educated in America, worked at prestigious design entities, and, now, as you all know, own a gallery which employs Americans and non-Americans alike. Chamber supports architecture and design studios in the United States and abroad. I own several properties in New York and have collaborated in numerous projects with architects, contractors, and construction workers to bring to life projects around the city. We have created a network within the creative industries that span all disciplines and media that help individuals sustain their practices and do what they love. We proudly carry the New York flag to every(…)
Mosqueda’s experience, while anecdotal, speaks to an atmosphere of xenophobia and closed borders that the Trump administration has fomented. “This thirty-six hour nightmare,” Mosqueda wrote, “is nothing but clear evidence of a deeply flawed immigration system in the United States, carried out by an administration that is more interested in expelling people than admitting them.”
While President Trump has threatened to cut all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, a country that doesn’t welcome the international community cannot foster a vibrant design or arts scenes (to speak nothing of sheltering refugees and providing immigrants their own opportunities). “I own several properties in New York and have collaborated in numerous projects with architects, contractors, and construction workers to bring to life projects around the city,” wrote Mosqueda. “We have created a network within the creative industries that span all disciplines and media that help individuals sustain their practices and do what they love.” The targeting of a legitimate and productive business owner also calls into question whether there’s any logic whatsoever to Trump’s immigration policy.
Chamber Gallery, which occupies a MOS Architects–designed space, focuses on limited-edition and unique objects of art and design; Mosqueda selects a new curator every two years. Past curators have included Studio Job and Andrew Zuckerman and the current curator is Matylda Krzykowski.
The Architect’s Newspaper is currently seeking a update from Mosqueda.