Santa Ana, CA
Born and raised in Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa, Guatemala, Juan Aquino, started working in the cane fields with his father at the young age of 8. His father was an educated family man with a big beard who was always smoking cigars. Juan’s father taught him to be consistent in his machete swing, to follow through, to open his stance, to use his whole body, and most importantly, to never look up. These lessons passed on from father to son also made Juan the exemplary golfer he is today. This exhibition, however, is not about golf —it is about a journey, and survival. (...)
Juan wasn’t planning to come to the US, but after witnessing his father’s murder, and watching his mother die from cancer two years later as the result of the polluted water, he was forced on this journey to provide for his remaining family. Recordings of an Immigrant is a survival story, one man’s journey to escape personal tragedy and the genocide of the Guatemalan civil war. It is a journey that traverses Mexico, enters the US in the trunk of a car, finds itself in a Fullerton drop house, lands in mid-80’s South Central Los Angeles, makes its way to Hawaii, only to end up in the courtrooms of the island.
The cornerstones of Juan’s life and what they encompass read more like an epic morality tale than a modern day story of immigration, poverty, violence, and corruption. It a reflection of the 80’s, a period of aggressive foreign nation intervention in Central America and failed intercity polices domestically, both of which brought about devastating personal tragedies. In spite of its extraordinary circumstances, this is a contemporary narrative set amidst the backdrop of the current and continued US immigration debate. Recordings of an Immigrant provides a moment of pause, an opportunity to confront taboo issues and explore how we as people judge one another.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website