Dina Bursztyn: Telepathic Mailbox and Migrant Letters

About the Exhibition

Dina Bursztyn’s Telepathic Mailbox and Migrant Letters consists of three distinct ceramic elements: a freestanding Telepathic Mailbox, five large plaques (the Migrant Letters), and five small plaques (“stamps”). Bursztyn’s fantastic and surreal mailbox is situated on the sidewalk near the entrance to Hostos Community College. The letters and stamps are affixed to the nearby exterior walls of the College, placed at various heights suggesting their telepathic journey.

Mail forms an important link between recent immigrants and their relatives and friends abroad. The Telepathic Mail Box embodies their wish for immediate communication. Carved and painted on the Mail Box are text and imagery that express the melancholy of separation. Some of the Migrant Letters and stamps relate cultural and spiritual traditions of Latin America, while others portray the developing folklore of the “illegal alien” in the United States. The text, both in Spanish and English, is presented not as a continuous narrative, but non-sequentially so that each viewer may complete the Letters with his/her own story.

Bursztyn (b.1948, Argentina) was compelled to create this work not only by her experience as a Latin American immigrant, but by her need to address the similar experiences and emotions shared by the multitude of immigrants living in the surrounding neighborhoods of South Bronx.

The artist believes that these residents have been marginalized within North American culture. Through Telepathic Mail Box and Migrant Letters, Bursztyn gives voice to their Latino identity and articulates some of their feelings. While the artwork specifically addresses a Latino experience, it can be easily understood by immigrants of other nationalities, as well as by anyone who has been separated from home and loved ones. This project, consisting of ceramic masks placed upon the facades of low-income buildings in New York City, was designed to denounce urban gentrification while at the same time expanding the concept of decent housing to include the cultural richness of the building’s inhabitants and their neighborhood.



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