The U.S.-Mexico border may be a dangerous place rife with drug smugglers, kidnappers, and human traffickers who routinely use small children as props to pose as family units, to expedite illegal entry.
But anti-wall “artist” Ronald Rael thinks it’s a fun place to hang out, and he’s enticing kids to an area between Sunland Park, New Mexico and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico with seesaw contraptions he installed on the government-owned steel fence, so the kiddos can interact with folks on the other side.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) July 29, 2019
China’s Xinhua news service, Ruptly and others documented Rael’s crew installing the bright pink devices on Sunday, when youngsters and their parents flocked to the fence to give them a try.
“There are good relations between the people of Mexico and the United States and using the seesaw shows that we are equal and we can play together and enjoy ourselves, but also that the wall cuts the relationship between us,” said Rael, an architect at UC Berkeley.
“Look, what happens in one place has an impact in the other and that’s what a seesaw does, exactly that.”
The installation follows a TED Talk by Rael in December about his “subversive reimagining” of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, a discussion based on his book “Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the US-Mexico Boundary.”
“Isn’t it fascinating how this simple act of drawing a line on a map can transform the way we see and experience the world?” he said. “And those lines on a map can create scars in the landscape and scars in our memories.”
From Arch Daily:
Ronald Rael, one half of the Berkeley CA based practice Rael San Fratello, has held a professional interest in borders (specifically the US-Mexico border) for quite some time. He’s developed numerous projects in the region, describing them as architecture “natives” or “immigrants” in the course of his talk. But as Rael spent more time in the area, he became increasingly interested in the border as an architectural element itself. “Is the wall architecture?” he asks.
Perhaps, he says, but that’s not the question architects should be interested in. Instead, they should be looking at the spaces (literal and figurative) that lie in between. Games such as volleyball (creatively renamed ‘wall y ball’) and baseball are already a presence along the border; in his talk Rael outlines a proposal to integrate these informal events formally within the structure of the wall. He shows a concept for a swing that allows people to become short-leash tourists until the moment that “gravity deports them to the other side.” Another proposal shows how a version of the wall could be perforated to make room for a table – a place for thanksgiving and communal celebration.
Another one of Rael’s bright ideas involves a house that literally has a border wall running through it “to emphasize the fact that the landscape of division cuts close to people’s lives,” according to the trade site.
As Rael ponders the deep questions of how to unite regions separated by the large metal border wall, hundreds of thousands of folks on the Mexico side are thinking up new ways to get over, under, or around the structures.
Through the first nine months of fiscal year 2019, Border Patrol agents have apprehended 905,926 illegal immigrants on the way in, with countless others passing over undetected.
And while kids play teeter-totter on the fence, scores of other youngsters sit in detention centers awaiting an unknown fate because their parents sent them off on their own or sold them to smugglers for extra cash.