Deborah Oropallo and Andy Rappaport: FLIGHT, 2019

Presented by Catharine Clark Gallery

Deborah Oropallo and Andy Rappaport

FLIGHT, 2019    

9 channel video installation

Dimensions variable 

Duration: 11 minutes

Presented by Catharine Clark Gallery

Booth A17

FLIGHT is the latest 9-channel video by Deborah Oropallo and Andy Rappaport. The title refers to mass migration and global displacement—the geo-political crisis of our time. At this moment, humans are losing their homes in a worldwide crisis of mass flight brought about by climate change, persecution, regional conflict, food shortage, drought, flood, and/or fire. Those displaced–call them migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, expats; call their experience migration, resettlement, or displacement, the terms are ultimately irrelevant. They are people and their flight is a humanitarian tragedy.

In the split-screen video, a continuous stream of boats crosses a vast and dark ocean. As they reach the shore, the faces of occupants draw closer to the viewers. We witness courage, desperation, fear, loss, and hope in their countenances. We see the provisional means of transport and escape reflecting the customs and traditions of their former homes: wooden boats, inflatables, the provisional, hand-built rafts made of anything that floats. Try to imagine a perilous journey in flimsy, overcrowded boats, across unknown and unforgiving waters, carrying only what is in your pockets. Now, try to imagine whether you will be taken-in where you land or sent back out to sea. Some people are given life vests when they start their journeys, others nothing; some people are greeted at shore by open arms; others are met by walls and rejection.

The boats arrive from all over the world: Syria, Cuba, Sub-Saharan Africa; Libya, Somalia, Myanmar. But if we only speak about global displacement, the tragedy becomes one of statistics, not people. The numbers seem too large to fathom; too distant from anything any one of us can affect or comprehend. We are not called upon to consider the humanity of each individual: the mid-voyage peril, parents lifting babies above their heads in hope of salvation, children carrying grandparents, people swimming to shore amongst bodies adrift in the water, the living and the dead afloat, side by side. These images are the ones that this video asks you to ponder.

Each ornate gold frame, resembling those frequently seen on historic paintings, houses a component of FLIGHT. The frames remind us of the ubiquity of tragic histories, such as those memorialized and allegorized in paintings like Gericault’s The Raft of the Medusa (1818 – 1819), Delacroix’s After The Shipwreck (1847), or Winslow Homer’s The Life Line (1884). FLIGHT considers and laments the disastrous consequences of exodus then and in our own time. The frames are also meant to evoke family portraits, such as those of our own ancestors, most of whom faced their own migrations.

The images in FLIGHT are drawn from internet news sites, by country, and piece together various photographs taken on location of scenes occurring in real time. Collectively the images tell a story that the 24-hour news cycle cannot capture. Our attention has become so short that most of these appalling disaster photographs–all easily found and in public view–are soon buried by the ever-growing accumulation of fresh events. The artists invite viewers to consider the cascade of human tragedies that will occur as we face the greatest migration driver in human history: climate change.

Technical information:


9 channel video with 3 channel sound

Duration: 11 minutes

9 video monitors with custom picture frames, 10 media players, ethernet 

switch, stereo speakers, miscellaneous stands and monitor mounts.