When ten years ago I went with my friend Neir to an exhibit titled La Colonia at New York University, I thought about how beautiful it was that someone had devoted themselves to gather the images of Spaniards who had emigrated to the United States more than a century ago.
The researchers of the exhibit, James D. Fernández and Luís Argeo, continued their work and created a small work of art in the shape of a book titled Invisible Immigrants. In it, they leave a record of the contributions (at both sides of the Atlantic) of those emigrants-immigrants and made us reflect on the causes that made these people’s stories invisible.
When last year Galicia’s Consello da Cultura and the Xunta brought to New York the photographic exhibit titled The Farewells (a moving account about the moment of departure in Galician emigration), these same researchers put together the exhibit The Welcomes about the hope present in the arrival of the new immigrants. And today, viewing Invisible Emigrants, the name of the exhibit that Fernández and Argeo have just opened at the Centro Conde Duque in Madrid, I find it amusing that their original project (in English) is titled Invisible Immigrants, and in the difference that there is, in our country, in the way of seeing and imagining an Emigrant in comparison with an Immigrant, when both are the same person.
Invisible Emigrants is a beautiful journey through the lives of those who tried to reconstruct their idea of home in the United States. A tribute to emigration but also to immigration. Because it continues being a question of perspective: emigrants from here are immigrants there, and even though we continue to be ourselves, the way in which others define us matters more than one imagines…