Why Cybraceros?

Root Event

4. Werkleitz Biennale real[work]

Parent Event

Why Cybraceros?
US 1998

“Why Cybraceros?” sarcastically uses the form of a promotional film. It is based on a real promotional film produced in the late 1940’s by the California Grower’s Council, titled „Why Braceros?“ This film was used by the Grower’s Council to defend the use of Braceros, or temporary Mexican farmhands. I use footage from this old industrial to briefly lay out the history of the Bracero Program in the United States. At the half way point the piece takes a sharp turn as the narrator advocates a futuristic Bracero Program in which only the labor is imported to the United States. The workers themselves (Cybraceros) are left at home in Mexico, as they tele-commute to American farms over the high-speed internet. The narrator explains that in this imagined future there is no difference between rich and poor on the internet, this is a future in which truly everyone can work from home, even braceros.

This dystopic concept, of a world in which immigrants can labor in America but never live in, or become the responsibility, of American society, is to me not only a bizarre twist on the American Dream; in some ways this is the realization of the American Dream. The United States has always benefited from the low wage (and sometimes free) labor of recent immigrants, who are drawn to America, in part, by The Dream of instant success. Simultaneously, nearly every wave of new immigrants suffers through several decades of intense discrimination, and usually a combination of verbal and physical attacks. The Cybracero, as a trouble free, no commitment, low cost laborer, is the perfect immigrant. The Cybracero is the hi-tech face of the age-old American Dream.

(Exhibition History, Best Experimental, Cinefestival, San Antonio, 1997)

Alex Rivera (US), Why Cybraceros?, 1998, Video, 5:00 min, col

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