ziemba's new music video shows what it's like to be an immigrant near the us-mexico border

The songstress returned to her hometown to shoot El Paso along the Paso del Norte Bridge.

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Sep 29 2017, 9:51pm

Although President Trump hasn't delivered on his campaign promise to build a physical wall dividing the United States and Mexico, his anti-immigration platform has manifested in his order to end the Obama-era DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. By terminating the program, which protects undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, hundreds of thousands of young people will be eligible for deportation as early as March 2018.

In light of the DACA decision and to combat increasing anti-Mexican sentiment, Rene Kladzyk, better known by her musical stage name Ziemba, premieres a new video for her single " El Paso" today. The film tells a story about the social, economic, and political history of the Mexico-United States border. Filmed along the Paso del Norte International Bridge that divides El Paso, Texas, where Kladzyk grew up, and Ciudad Juárez, the video recounts the relationship between El Paso and Juarez, twin cities that were cleaved apart in 1846 when American forces seized expanses of the southwestern desert.

The video busts the longheld myth that Mexican people come to the United States to take American jobs, pointing to United States-led initiatives such as the Bracero program, which brought five million Mexican workers to the United States. What remains hauntingly true throughout is the fact that, while El Paso is recognized as one of the safest cities in the United States, Juarez remains one of the most dangerous in the world.

Kladzyk wrote " El Paso" at a moment when cartel violence in Ciudad Juárez had reached its apex. At that time, many of her friends were living in fear. "I was thinking a lot about how violence is embodied, how it shapes the way that you navigate public spaces, and all of the axes of inequality that dictate how a person navigates the constant threat of violence. The ultimate idea of the song is voicing a very basic desire to feel empowered in the face of destruction, and how to perform your empowerment." She quotes her lyrics: "pretend to be made of buffalo hide."

Viewing the urban structure of El Paso and Juarez as a microcosm of the relationship between the United States and Mexico, Kladzyk hopes the video will expand consciousness about the lived realities of those who exist on the borderlands.

"I think it's important that people in the United States do the hard work to disentangle political rhetoric from reality when it comes to the United States-Mexico border," says Ziemba. "At a very basic level, it's important because the privileges that many people in the United States enjoy happen at the expense of poor people from Mexico. The things we buy, the objects of our lives, they all have traces of this history, they carry global pathways within them."

Now, back in her Brooklyn home base, Ziemba gears up for more of her characteristically fragrant performances, including a fire organ performance at National Sawdust on October 15th and a multisensory installation at MoMA PS1 on November 19th.