“Build that wall” has become the rallying cry of Trumpers across America. It’s hollered so frequently and with such gusto that even POTUS himself has been finding it a bit of a drag – last December he shittily told a rally in South Carolina: “It’s not ‘build that wall’ anymore; it’s ‘continue building that wall,’ because we’re building it.”
There isn’t much about the situation that doesn’t leave a sentient person cold. From the forcible separation of children from their parents to the use of tear gas against migrants trying to pass into the country.
In the past few days, though, the art installation known as Teetertotter Wall has changed the global conversation. It was the work of architectural studio Rael San Fratello, who over the weekend installed three pink seesaws between metal slats at the US-Mexico border wall, inviting children on either side to play together.
The joy and innocence of children playing and the spectacle of acid-bright seesaws served to render the fence absurd, making it (to quote Ronald Rael, co-founder of Rael San Fratello) “a literal fulcrum for U.S. – Mexico relations…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.”
But despite the fact that it lasted only about half an hour, the project has been ten years in the making, with the original designs being drawn in 2009.
Trump may have adopted the cause as his own but the Secure Fence Act, which authorised the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the Mexican border (and inspired the original designs for Teetertotter Wall) was passed as far back as 2006. Speaking to artnet News, Virginia San Fratello explained: “The wall, and the unfortunate politics of the wall, not only separate countries, but regions, cities, neighborhoods, families, and more recently, a separation of children from their parents.”
The architects, along with a group of supporters, pitched up on Saturday 28th July; everything had been designed in advance so that the seesaws could be installed without attracting the attention of border officials. “The fulcrum that supported the seesaw was notched to sit on the border wall temporarily,” said San Fratello.
In the event, some sources have claimed that guards on either side of the wall did see what was happening and let it stand, although, according to a statement from US border officials: “There is no playground along the U.S.-Mexico border wall in New Mexico. On the evening of July 28, U.S. Border Patrol agents encountered a small group who identified themselves as local university faculty/staff at the border wall. They had placed boards through the wall and appeared to be playing with residents of Mexico while recording the engagement. The group removed the boards and left the area without incident after it was established that there was no advance coordination. Agents ensured that no people/goods were crossed during the encounter.”
All in all, the installation only lasted 30 minutes although, San Fratello and Rael have designed other installations including a Burrito Wall – an open-air kitchen which could transform the fence into a food cart.
Let’s hope they pull it off because burritos are delicious and fuck Trump.