Welcome to America's Finest Tourist Plantation
Artist: David Avalos, Louis Hock, Elizabeth Sisco, Deborah Small
Date of Action: 1989
Region: North America
Location: San Diego, California
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Medium: Public Art
Confronting Bodies: The San Diego City Council's Public Services and Safety Committee
Description of Artwork: "Welcome to America's Finest Tourist Plantation" is a triptych of photographs depicting illegal aliens being arrested or working in extremely problematic conditions. The work includes a central photograph of an armed Immigration and Naturalization Service agent with handcuffed illegal immigrants, an image of an open door with a "maid service please" sign, and a photo of a pair of hands cleaning a dish. The work is intended to draw attention to the problematic immigration laws which deny space for the undocumented worker, even though San Diego's tourist industry is highly dependent upon the undocumented worker.
The Incident: San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau spokesman Al Resse strongly objected to the message of the work, saying that "We think it is a totally false representation of San Diego and the tourist industry," Reese said. "To some degree it is an insult to the 85,000 employees in the tourism industry, implying that they are illegals or are committing illegal acts by hiring illegals."The artists replied to this by explaining that they are not looking to criticize, rather they are looking at the social relationships which makes San Diego's robust tourist industry possible.
Results of Incident: The San Diego City Council's Public Services and Safety Committee ultimately vetoed a grant to Installation Gallery.