A Dream Deferred
Words & Images © Brendan McInerney. Team New York No. 1.
The work that is presented here is very much a product of collaboration. It is a product of the time and consideration afforded to me by the people pictures more so than any effort of my own. For this collaboration, I invited each person pictured here to my apartment in Rockaway Park. We talked for a little, sat down for an interview and then took some portraits. I had hoped to get a better understanding of each person which I could demonstrate in a photograph. Each discussion was unique, touching on themes or ideas that each person had condensed since arriving in the United States. What surprised me, however, was the common thread woven throughout all the interviews.
A more honest theme for this project might be ‘bureaucracy’ or ‘deferral.’ As Hany Hawasly said, “I think… maybe this doesn’t silence you but [being an immigrant] will slow you down very much before you’re capable of feeling grounded enough to have an opinion and to express it.” I wanted this idea to come across in the way the quotes are displayed. I transcribed portions of the interviews in my own handwriting and superimposed them on pages from I-129 and I-485 forms provided by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to people trying to obtain a visa or a green card.
Bureaucratic forms often appear to be plain, blank and therefore nonpolitical but this could not be further from the truth. USCIS has made calculated and intentional changes to these forms to make them harder to understand and more difficult to complete. These parts are intended to encourage greater understanding and wider discussion of the immigrant experience in the United States, among myself, my collaborators and anyone so kind as to take time to read these words and look at these images.