VIRGINIA SAN FRATELLO AND RONALD RAEL IMPRESSED THE WORLD’S CONSCIENCE BY INSTALLING SEESAWS ON THE BORDER FENCE BETWEEN US AND MEXICO
Text by: Fiammetta Cesana
Opposing the growing nationalist tendencies to separate, limit, and exclude, the world of art today sees no boundaries. Technical restrictions are overcome by social and cultural relevance. What matters it to make something meaningful.
The California-based architects Virginia San Fratello and Ronald Rael successfully accomplished the feat, joining contemporary groups of talents which place their art at the service of social and political change.
On Monday, they reached across the division between Mexico and the US transforming the fence into an international playground. Where Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, borders with Sunland Park, New Mexico, the two cut the border with three pink seesaws allowing children and adults on both sides to play and swing together.
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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
The increasingly militarized area became the symbol of Trump’s racist and intolerant policies. But, since for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, the US President’s hateful behavior is generating a series of artistic initiatives in favor of inclusiveness, freedom and democratic purposes: in 2017, the artist JR created a picnic table with a giant photograph of dreamy eyes on the border in Tecate, Mexico, and ERRE and Margarita Garcia Asperas hosted a dinner on the Mexican side of the border over a huge mirror “Re/flecting the border”, and earlier this year Cosimo Cavallaro built a cheese version of Trump’s wall.
The cross-border pink seesaws carry out this impactful sentiment fed by artists, in the attempt to raise awareness and actively fight against the new American version of the Iron Curtain.
San Fratello and Rael’s action goes beyond creative sense, beyond cultural categorizations, beyond political establishment and even military orders… it actually goes beyond. It finds a way to overcome boundaries, to break the wall, making art the mean to question reality and start the change.