Ustedes (Them)

Public Art

Ustedes (Them)

Ustedes (Them) utilized drone technology to amplify the voices and perspectives of immigrants and refugees. Co-opting the same technology employed by governments for border surveillance, as a medium to broadcast the voices and perspectives of immigrants and refugees affected by bans, separations and labor exploitation. In the New York iteration of this project Wodisczko collaborated with immigrants from South and Central America featuring recorded performances addressing American immigration issues.
Krzysztof Wodiczko

October 2, 2020.


Governors Island, NYC.


Drone performance: October 2, 2020. Governors Island.

Panel discussion: Immigration & Power: A Celebration in Honor of International Migrants Day, December 17, 2020. Zoom.

Ustedes (Them) , Krzysztof Wodiczko. Governors Island, NY. 2020.
  • Project description
  • About the artist
Ustedes (Them) , Krzysztof Wodiczko. Governors Island, NY. 2020.

In October 2020, Krzysztof Wodiczko launched Ustedes (Them) which made its debut in the U.S. in this second production. Wodiczko co-opted drone technology, often employed by governments for border surveillance operations, as a medium to broadcast the voices and perspectives of immigrants and refugees. For the New York City iteration of the project, the artist engaged those who are most affected by bans, separations, policing, with a focus on labor exploitation. Wodiczko used his drones to present a series of moving and difficult recorded performances that addressed American immigration issues, just ahead of the 2020 presidential elections.

Wodiczko collaborated with immigrants from South and Central America, both documented and undocumented, with many of the voices coming from older generations who have spent decades working extremely hard in this country in difficult and precarious situations, and without safety nets when they can no longer work or get sick. Immigrants often work longer hours for much less money, have no insurance or pension, and may be subjected to sexual exploitation or xenophobic or racist comments and behaviors without having any paths to proper recourse. As Covid-19 brought essential and front line workers into clear focus, it was time to hear from this most vulnerable group.

To facilitate a thoughtful and sensitive process, More Art worked with Make the Road New York.

To view photos and videos of the 2019 production of this project in Italy, please visit the Loro (Them) project page.

View the press release.

Krzysztof Wodiczko

Krzysztof Wodiczko was born in 1943 in Warsaw, Poland, and lives and works in New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since 1980, he has created more than seventy large-scale slide and video projections of politically charged images on architectural façades and monuments worldwide. By appropriating public buildings and monuments as backdrops for projections, Wodiczko focuses attention on ways in which architecture and monuments reflect collective memory and history. In 1996, he added sound and motion to the projections, and began to collaborate with communities around chosen projection sites—giving voice to the concerns of heretofore marginalized and silent citizens who live in the monuments’ shadows.

Projecting images of community members’ hands, faces, or entire bodies onto architectural façades, and combining those images with voiced testimonies, Wodiczko disrupts our traditional understanding of the functions of public space and architecture. He challenges the silent, stark monumentality of buildings, activating them in an examination of notions of human rights, democracy, and truths about the violence, alienation, and inhumanity that underlie countless aspects of social interaction in present-day society. Wodiczko has also developed “instruments” to facilitate survival, communication, and healing for homeless people and immigrants; these therapeutic devices—which Wodiczko envisions as technological prosthetics or tools for empowering and extending human abilities—address physical disability as well as economic hardship, emotional trauma, and psychological distress.

Wodiczko heads the Interrogative Design Group, and is Director of the Center for Art, Culture, and Technology, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His work has appeared in many international exhibitions, including the Bienal de São Paulo (1965, 1967, 1985); Documenta (1977, 1987); the Venice Biennale (1986, 2000); and the Whitney Biennial (2000). Wodiczko received the 1999 Hiroshima Art Prize for his contribution as an artist to world peace, and the 2004 College Art Association Award for Distinguished Body of Work.

  • Performance Script
  • International context
  • Partners
Ustedes (Them) publication

Read the full performance script in the Ustedes (Them) publication.
Lea el guión completo de la actuación en la publicación Ustedes (Them).


Excerpt/Extracto: Amador Rivas

Yo tengo una satisfacción tan grande y creo que me voy a morir tranquilo porque participé en un movimiento de grupo este movimiento Black Lives Matter que tanto ha influido en la lucha en este país.
I get such great satisfaction and I think that I will die peacefully because I participated in this group movement, the Black Lives Matter movement that has influenced so much the struggle in this country.

Estuvimos encerrado mucho tiempo, pero el segundo día que estallaron las protestas, no pude aguantar más y salí a la calle también a luchar con con la gente, con la comunidad, con los negros, con los blancos.
We were locked up for a long time, but on the second day, the second day that the protests broke out, I couldn’t take it anymore and I went out into the streets too, to fight with the people, with the community, with Black people, with white people.

La gente de siempre han dicho que esta juventud no sirve, que esta juventud no, no, no sirve para nada, como dicen las personas mayores.
People have always said that this youth is not good, that this youth is not, no, not good for anything, as the older people say.

Pero yo creo que la juventud ha demostrado durante este período que sí está preparada y que sí está lista para hacer un cambio en el sistema, porque hace falta no reformar el sistema, sino cambiar el sistema que está en movimiento, que ya ha avanzado un paso más hacia hacia el fascismo.
But I think the youth have shown during this period that they are ready and they are ready to make a change in the system, because it is not necessary to reform the system, but to change the system that is in motion, that has already moved one step further towards fascism.

Y me voy a morir tranquilo porque fue algo que nunca pensé ver en mi vida en los Estados Unidos antes de morir.
And I will die peacefully because it was something that I never thought I would see in my life in the United States before I died.



Loro (Them), Krzysztof Wodiczko, Milan 2019.

The first iteration of this project was produced by More Art and Krzysztof Wodiczko in Milan in 2019. For this presentation, titled Loro (Them), we worked closely with members of Milan’s growing immigrant population to explore the complexities of life as a refugee on a continent that is increasingly hostile towards foreign newcomers.

To produce this complex work, More Art engaged with Fondazione Casa della Carità, a social institution which provides housing, counseling, medical services, occupational mentorship, cultural initiatives, and legal aide programs to the homeless, roma people, and immigrants living in informal settlements or irregular camps in the outskirts of Milan.

Visit the Loro (Them) project page to learn more.

More Art is proud to collaborate with Make the Road New York for this project to build upon our shared goals of collectivizing experiences and voices to create change. Make the Road New York builds the power of immigrant and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice.

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