As part of their Day of the Dead celebration, Hollywood Forever is currently exhibiting “MIGRANTES,” life-sized figures symbolizing the 2,500 souls who lose their life every year trying to cross the border. The artist, Alejandro Santiago, is allowing Hollywood Forever to display 100 figures out of the 2,501 statues in the collection. Even with such a small representation only standing at the entrance to the cemetery, seeing all of these lost souls together is sobering.
When the artist was himself crossing the border illegally, in order to understand the immigrant experience, he was moved by the sheer number of crosses at the border, marking each death. At the time, the number of immigrants who died crossing the border was estimated to be 2,500. For this work, he created 2,501 souls “because there is always one more.” The artworks were carefully packaged and shipped from Mexico after ironically being held up at the border. After this display, they will be shipped back to Oaxaca to join the others.
The theme of this year’s Day of the Dead celebration at Hollywood Forever is “Sacred Migrations,” and features the Monarch Butterfly, which migrates between Michoacán and California. It is a symbol of the Dreamers and the people who risk everything to cross borders in search of a better life. This installation echoes that sentiment in a beautiful, heartbreaking way.