culture

This Art Project Is Traveling To Every U.S.-Mexico Border Crossing And Documenting The Experience Of Daily Commuters

Gina Clyne

The U.S.-Mexico border is a deeply political space, with hundreds of thousands of people crossing the border daily. Artists have long used it as the canvas for their artwork, filling the rusted fencing with murals and creating site-specific pieces to disrupt its power over people’s lives.

As President Trump attacks immigration and doubles down on his plans for an extended border wall, artists are looking to the border, even more, to fight back.

CREDIT: Photo credit: Gina Clyne

Last August, L.A.-based artist Tanya Aguíñiga kicked off the AMBOS project, where she and other San Diego and Tijuana artists took over the marketplace in the center of the Tijuana/San Ysidro border crossing and created a week-long series of art interventions that included film screenings, a sound installation and the creation of a quipu, an ancient Incan communication device made up of color knots.

For the second installation of the AMBOS project, which is currently underway with the second leg planned for next year, Aguíñiga and her team are traveling to every border crossing along the southern United States, between Tijuana-San Diego and Ciudad Juarez-El Paso. They’re collaborating with local artists from both sides of the border at each crossing to create visual and performance art installations. They’re also bringing the quipu they started last year and adding to it, using it to document the daily migration of people on the border.

To build on El Quipu Fronterizo, Aguíñiga and her team give participants two strands of thread and ask them to tie them into a knot.

“The strands represent the U.S. and Mexico’s relationship to one another, our self at either side of the border, and our own mental state at the point of crossing,” says Aguiñiga.

The knots collected will all be tied together and added to the quipu, creating a visual representation of the thousands who cross the border each day. The quipu will later be part of an exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City that focuses on AMBOS. Through this quipu, postcards participants write about their border-crossing experience and photography and film taken throughout the trip. AMBOS will document the border as it currently stands and the experiences of people who live with it every day. That’s especially important as the space will likely transform if Trump makes his border wall expansion a reality.

Aguíñiga, who grew up commuting across the San Diego-Tijuana border, says the project as a whole will “give voice to our experience as people that are from the border, commute on the border and really do see ourselves as a part of a larger, trans-national community. Our experiences are very different from those experiences of people in Mexico and people in the U.S.”

“That’s the thing that the border, and even after being a certain distance away from the border,” she adds. “People don’t know anything about what it’s like to live next to the border, and what it’s like to live constantly going back and forth between two countries.”

CREDIT: Photo credit: Gina Clyne

Aguíñiga will also travel to parts of the border that don’t have a fence built yet to bring installation and performance art to “spaces that are yet undivided between us.” She’s also happy to share the experiences of people who have different histories and interactions with the border. Those who share their stories via the postcards are different ages, cross fro different reasons and view it in different ways, sharing how the wall has impacted their identity.

By humanizing the border crossing experience, Aguíñiga believes we can create positive change.

“Just by us making our experiences more visual, by recording them, by constantly sharing them with others, then people have a human story or face to put to it,” she says. “It’s more difficult for them to fear or not want to help make your situation better.”

To learn more about the AMBOS project, follow along on their journey and find out where they’re going next, visit ambosproject.com or follow them on Instagram.


READ: This 23-Year-Old Artist Created A Video Game About Border Crossing To Honor His Immigrant Parents

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The Art Installation Of A Child Peering Over The US-Mexico Border Isn't About DACA, It's About Migration

culture

The Art Installation Of A Child Peering Over The US-Mexico Border Isn’t About DACA, It’s About Migration

@jr / Instagram

A French artist created this art installation of a boy looking over the border to the U.S. from Mexico because he is fascinated by walls.

It just so happened that his art installation went up the same week as the Trump administration’s decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

French artist JR recently installed the image of a one-year-old child peering over the U.S.-Mexico border into California from Tecate, Mexico. JR has made a name for himself in the art world by plastering his images on the walls all over the world but this one was different – JR created his own wall in the likeness of a young child. JR’s work had one mission: express the futility of stopping migration. He also wanted to make the U.S.-Mexico border wall seem ridiculous with the building of his own, child-shaped wall looming behind it, according to NPR.

“People will always migrate,” JR told The New York Times. “When we built walls, people built tunnels. When we closed places, they went by the water. The history of humanity is the story of people migrating. Of course, that has to be regulated.”

It just so happened that JR’s installation at the border wall coincided with the announcement by the Trump administration to rescind DACA, a program specifically for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. JR mentions to NPR that he was happy with the response he received on social media about this piece of art.

“Most of the people, if you read the comments, they were not talking politics or they didn’t mention the name of the president,” JR told NPR. “It was about people.”


READ: Senator Warren Speaks On The Removal Of DACA, Making Her Statement Personal With These Three Stories

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