ICE Escape Signs: Kings County Hospital (Haitian Creole), 2019
Front engraved plastic
11 x 17.5 inches
Edition 1 of 3
Special thanks to Carlos J. Rodriguez-Perez, Vanessa Reed, and Tammy Gatta for sharing their stories, and to Lily Cerat for her translations and insight.
Commissioned by the 2019 NLE Curatorial Lab
Although public hospitals — as places where anyone can be treated regardless of immigration status or ability to pay — may be presumed to offer sanctuary from immigration raids, this is often not the case. Despite Kings County Hospital’s commitment to patients’ ability to “seek care without fear,” the communities surrounding the hospital continue to face U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and deportations. Centering on the experience of the Haitian community of East Flatbush, Polak’s creative signage draws attention to the need for hospital staff and patients to be aware of the possibility of raids. As part of her ongoing public art project ICE-Escape Signs, these site-responsive works mimic existing emergency signage throughout the hospital, conveying transgressive ideas about what it might mean to seek safety on hospital premises in the event of an ICE raid.