A Seesaw At the Border, Because What Goes Up Goes Down

Twitter photos at the border

In a “subversive re-imagining” of the border wall - which cruelly, inherently represents what Noam Chomsky calls "the architecture of violence” - two artists installed a set of fluorescent pink seesaws in both Texas and Mexico on Monday to provide "a literal fulcrum" between the two countries, and all of us. The project, on the outskirts of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, was dreamed up 10 years ago by Ronald Rael, an architecture professor at UC Berkeley, and Virginia San Fratello, a design professor at San José State University. In his Borderwall as Architecture, which one review deemed "an artistic and intellectual hand grenade of a book," Rael re-examines the physical and cultural divide of the wall, and the ways it both keeps people out and draws them toward it. Like French artist JR's image of a Mexican child peering over the wall, Rael argues the seesaw illustrates an essential lesson: "What happens in one place has an impact in the other." The pink seesaws - dubbed "Sube y Baja," or "Go up and go down" - were set up without advance notice in Sunland Park, New Mexico and slid through the fence’s slats. Despite the mindless, ominous notion of a "national emergency," delighted kids and adults flocked to them, offering joyful, poignant, spontaneous proof that in fundamental ways, "We are all one."


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Ronald Rael with his book. Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small

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