At Large  July 31, 2019  Chandra Noyes

Artists Bring a Rare Moment of Playfulness to the US-Mexico Border

flickr/Anne Adrian

Border Wall at Ardovino's Desert Crossing, Sunland Park, New Mexico

The US-Mexico border saw a rare moment of carefree joy this week, thanks to a creative-thinking art and architecture duo.

Installed in between the vertical steel slats of a section of border wall in Sunland Park, New Mexico, were several bright pink see-saws, inviting residents on either side to engage in a few moments of play. Called the Teeter-Totter Wall by creators Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, the project was meant to create a “literal fulcrum” between the countries, a physical representation of the back and forth between us.


 

The team, working as Rael San Fratello, first sketched plans for the project 10 years ago. Rael is an architecture professor at UC Berkeley, and author of the 2017 book Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary. With San Fratello, a San Jose State interior design faculty member, their studio “disrupts the conventions of architecture by tackling topics not typically of interest to architects.”

The see-saws connected the people of Sunland Park and neighboring Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, allowing them to share a moment of fun and unity. Reflecting the give and take of the two nations, the ups and downs of the teeter-totters are meant to mirror the impact the two have on each other.

Usually a site of contention, be it philosophical or physical, Teeter-Totter Wall briefly changed the nature of the site (the installation lasted 30 minutes). Despite campaign promises, President Donald Trump as yet to build the border wall he has often spoken of. The half-mile stretch of border wall in Sunland Park was built by a private organization in 2019 using money from a GoFundMe campaign.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra Noyes is Managing Editor for Art & Object.

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