Untitled (Operation Swiftwater) (video still), 2011
Mike Lai’s video explores immigrants’ journies to the U.S. across bodies of water. It takes inspiration from a tragic event in 1988 where a group of immigrants were smuggled across the Niagara River from Ontario to New York in the dead of winter on an inadequately sized raft, only to end with the death of all passengers, including a six year old girl. Referencing the tradition of 18th Century French heroic paintings, Lai’s video captures passengers in a raft struggling to get through whitewater, inhabiting the tension between life and death, triumph and failure, distilling countless stories of people risking their lives to enter into this country.
Chico & Chang
June 11 - August 20, 2011
Intersection for the Arts
San Francisco, CA