Seesaw project brought a moment of “joy” and “connectedness” to the U.S-Mexico border
Children smiling and playing on seesaws: an ordinary scene at a traditional park played out at the U.S-Mexico border with the dividing border fence as the fulcrum.
Installed within the slatted steel border fence separating the United States from Mexico, three pink seesaws stitched two binational communities together — allowing children from both sides to connect with one another.
The masterminds behind the “Teeter-Totter Wall” project, Ronald Rael, an architecture professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Virginia San Fratello, an associate professor of design at San Jose State University, designed the concept for the binational seesaws ten years ago.
This week their design came to life — manifesting how the actions that occur on one side have a direct impact on the other.
“The seesaw represents the idea that talks about the balances and equalities, and how the border is a literal fulcrum between U.S. and Mexican relationships; whether you think about it economically, politically, or humanistically,” Rael told AL DÍA during a phone interview.
On Sunday, Rael and his crew transported the pink seesaws to Sunland Park, New Mexico, where a slatted border wall fence separates it from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.
“A lot of our work has to do with play, but it doesn't discount the violence that happens at the border. Pink represents both, it’s fun and playful, but it was also used to memorialize the women who were killed in the femicides in Juarez,” Rael said.
People on both sides of the border were able to unite for a moment, despite being divided by a fence. However, Rael was still concerned about how the authorities would react during the 30-min installation.
He then realized both Border Patrol and National Guard Soldiers understood the language. "They watched and smiled," he said.
While it was a moment of “connectedness”, Rael says it was also meant to show the humanity of those living in border communities.
“I think people have many different kinds of perceptions of what’s happening at the border today. I think the most important thing is to show there are people, families, children who live along the border and how the construction and politics of the wall affect their lives every day,” Rael said.
An advocate for border communities, Rael says the wall is a scar that needs to be healed.
“The way we advocate for border communities is to not advocate for the design of walls. We advocate for the design in the spaces the wall has invaded. We think those are the spaces that need addressing, these are the spaces that are left vacant, dangerous, and disconnect people.”