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San Francisco, identified as a sanctuary city for immigrants, saw increasing numbers of federal immigration raids after September 11, 2001, which lead to growing fear and paranoia among both legal residents and undocumented immigrants. Sanctuary City/Ciudad Santuariowas developed through a two-year process of investigation and research prompted by this phenomenon. Through this process, artist Sergio De La Torre  involved young artists from the San Francisco Art Institute, who were immigrants.

The artist and his team consulted with a number of nonprofit organizations (the ACLU, the Edgewood Center for Children and Families, the Mission Asset Fund, the Mission Economic Development Agency, ¡Poder!, La Voz Latina, Dolores Community Center and CARECEN) as well as with national NGOs, international think tanks, and governmental agencies; and, from that research assembled a bloc of video projections and photographs, together with a text-based installation and a limited-edition timeline. The work was displayed at Queen’s Nails in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Sergio De La Torre is a photographer and performance/installation artist who grew up in the Tijuana/San Diego border area and migrated to San Francisco. His photographic, performance and installation works have focused on issues regarding Diaspora/tourism, immigration, and identity politics.

Founded in 1871, the San Francisco Art Institute offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in fine arts. This project enabled some of its students to be part of a collaborative project, but also furthered the vision of  its exhibition programs, “to claim a more intense relationship between artistic productions and public spaces.”