‘Illegal Superheroes’ challenges US immigration

By artsHub http://www.artshub.com.au/au/news-article/news/arts/illegal-super-heroes-challenges-us-immigration-191100| Friday, August 24, 2012

America’s comic book superheros are being threatened with deportation due to the country’s intense immigration policies. California-based artist Neil Rivas has attempted to centre attention on the subject of immigration in the US by creating a series of wanted posters for some well-known ‘illegal immigrants’ currently living in the land of plenty who have saved the world time and time again. Rivas aims to prove that some of the best Americans known in the world are in fact ‘aliens’ in their own right.

Rivas’ artistic project Illegal Superheroes includes over 25 posters, each vibrantly illustrates a different comic book hero with their name at the top and the word ‘ILLEGAL’ in large, bold print below their image. A warning is issued underneath stating ‘Super heroes who enter this country without proper authorisation are breaking the law, plain and simple. These illegal super heroes are subject to deportation at any time. Their very presence is in direct violation of federal law.’

The text then goes on to suggest contacting the ‘San Francisco ICE Field Office –ISH Department’ to report the super men and women stating ‘Officers in these divisions are obligated by law to make records of any reported “illegal super hero activity.”‘

‘If ICE is going to be rounding up people and labeling them “illegal”, that has to be applied to these pop culture gods and goddesses,’ Rivas tells Colorlines. ‘In America, these characters hold a lot of nostalgia for people and make people care. When it’s Superman and Superman belongs to your childhood, it will stir some feelings. I wanted to create something that got people’s attention and got a strong response, whether it was confusion or agreement or anger.’

A hotline number is allocated to each individual hero, when called it connects to pre-recorded messages that provide information on the selected crime fighter’s illegal status. Highly researched, each recording provides the background and origin of the super immigrants proving why they would be considered illegals in the USA according to the country’s invasive immigration laws.

An example of the hotline messages using X-Men favourite Wolverine states:

‘Hello you’ve reached the illegal Super Heroes Department for the San Francisco immigration Customs Enforcement Field Office. This is the report hotline for illegal super hero Wolverine

Wolverine was born in Alberta, Canada sometime during the late 19th century. He is a Canadian citizen with possible dual citizenship in Japan. He has entered the U.S. illegally often over the centuries with most recently having done so as a member of the X-Men and the Avengers.

He is suspect to currently be illegally present within U.S. borders. To make a report, please leave a detailed message after the tone.

Thank you & God Bless America.’

The exhibition Illegal Superheroes recently wrapped up in San Francisco’s Ramp Gallery. But Rivas has revealed he has plans to to establish a campaign for a speciality ICE unit for superheroes, consisting of an extension of the ICE field offices, in a new exhibition.

Rivas has worked internationally as an artist, photojournalist, educator, and community organiser, and has exhibited his work in the United States, Guatemala, El Salvador and Japan.

Visit our gallery on tumblr to see some of the posters featured in Neil Rivas’ Illegal Superheroes.

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