AlieNation is a photographic installation inspired by the legal term “alien.” In this series I explore the history of immigration law and citizenship. I was interested in capturing time-lapse star trails to suggest the passing of time and a macro perspective over San Francisco, which historically has been a major immigration hub. The nightscape, measuring 90 X 60 inches, shows patterns of movement on land, air, and sea. Its size and aesthetic quality captivates the viewer, symbolizing the allure of the United States as a land of promise.


Surrounding the San Francisco nightscape are ten strips measuring 10 inches X 60 inches. Each strip consists of a different star-trail direction to suggest the diversity of migration patterns and experiences. Operating on a different trajectory are sets of immigration laws which run counter to the human reality of migration.


Focusing on a micro perspective, my intention is to show how the interpretation of one law can influence the passing of another and the gradual creation of a system. Each set of laws corresponds to a particular time in US history exposing the parallels between the nativism of the early twentieth century and its current iteration. To juxtapose the history of immigration legislature, the installation is paired with audio testimonies of the “alien” experience. The interviews are made possible courtesy of Manzanar National Historic Site Collection, Densho, University of Texas at El Paso Library Special Collections Department, and the Statue of Liberty National Monument.