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Artists project seesaws over US border wall


Saturday, 3rd August 2019 at 12:00 pm
Maggie Coggan
Artists have installed three pink seesaws between the US - Mexico border wall allowing children from both sides to play with one another. 


Saturday, 3rd August 2019
at 12:00 pm
Maggie Coggan


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Artists project seesaws over US border wall
Saturday, 3rd August 2019 at 12:00 pm

Artists have installed three pink seesaws between the US – Mexico border wall allowing children from both sides to play with one another. 

The project, brought to life by professors Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, was inspired by conceptual drawings of the seesaws from 2009. 

The drawings were included in their 2017 book, Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary.  

View this post on Instagram

One of the most incredible experiences of my and @vasfsf’s career bringing to life the conceptual drawings of the Teetertotter Wall from 2009 in an event filled with joy, excitement, and togetherness at the borderwall. The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S. – Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side. Amazing thanks to everyone who made this event possible like Omar Rios @colectivo.chopeke for collaborating with us, the guys at Taller Herrería in #CiudadJuarez for their fine craftsmanship, @anateresafernandez for encouragement and support, and everyone who showed up on both sides including the beautiful families from Colonia Anapra, and @kerrydoyle2010, @kateggreen , @ersela_kripa , @stphn_mllr , @wakawaffles, @chris_inabox and many others (you know who you are). #raelsanfratello #borderwallasarchitecture

A post shared by Ronald Rael (@rrael) on

While Rael and San Fratello had been trying to turn their vision into reality for some time, when the Trump administration passed its family separation policy in 2018, they sprung to action in the hope the project could be used to connect people and draw attention to the issue of child separation.  

Working with Mexican metal artists and members of the artist’s collective Chopeke Collective, the three pink seesaws were constructed and slotted between the wall at Sunland Park, New Mexico, and Ciudad Juárez. 

Rael said on Instagram that bringing the project to life was one of the most incredible experiences of his and San Fratello’s career. 

“It was an event filled with joy, excitement, and togetherness at the borderwall,” Rael said.  

“The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S. – Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side.” 

Videos of the children using the seesaws as if they were in a normal playground were posted by both designers, and the videos soon went viral. 

Rael told Rolling Stone Magazine that following the recent go ahead by the US Supreme Court for Trump to expand border walls, which could cost up to US$2.5 billion (AU$3.6 billion), he was hopeful the project would draw attention to not just policy, but the people who lived and worked at the border. 

“There are communities there: grandmothers, children, mothers, fathers,” he said. 

“What’s so important to me, and what I feel is missing from the conversation, is the recognition of the humanity that exists along the border, and an approach to thinking about immigration from a humanistic perspective.

“I hope people glean [from the project] the importance of keeping families together, of keeping that joy and happiness together.”


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.


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