Welcome to America's Finest Tourist Plantation

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Artist: David Avalos, Louis Hock, Elizabeth Sisco, Deborah Small

Year: 1989

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.


'Tourist Plantation' Reference Upsetting : Bus Poster Art Taxes Officials' Patience

See Also:

Public Art at Work: Democracy Untested is Democracy Denied