An Art Installation Unites Children at the US-Mexico Border

Thanks to three pink seesaws, the children of Mexico and the United States were able to play together despite the wall that divided them.

Rael San Fratello, 'Teeter-Totter Wall'. Image: Instagram @rrael
Rael San Fratello, 'Teeter-Totter Wall'. Image: Instagram @rrael

Teeter-Totter Wall, an installation of three bright pink seesaws spanning the US-Mexico wall, allowed children of the two countries to play in tandem with each other, despite the wall that divides them. The project was the brainchild of architectural studio Rael San Frantello, the collaboration of an interior design professor and an architecture professor at San Jose State and UC Berkeley respectively. It had been in the works for 10 years, but due to the recent climate, now seemed the best time to realise the project.

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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

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“The border is a literal fulcrum for US-Mexico Relations, and building walls severs those relationships,” Virginia San Fratello told Artnet News. “The wall, and the unfortunate politics of the wall, not only separate countries, but regions, cities, neighbourhoods, families, and more recently, a separation of children from their parents.”

The three seesaws were installed at the border of El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico for half an hour and created a brief aura of happiness in an otherwise desolate and sobering situation. The bright neon pink of the see saw was chosen in a deliberate contrast with the austerity of the metal wall of Sunland Park.

Rael San Fratello, Tettertotter Wall (2014). Courtesy of Rael San Fratello.
Rael San Fratello, Tettertotter Wall (2014). Courtesy of Rael San Fratello.

The symbol of unity of these seesaws has drawn praise and considerable media attention.

"Art is such a powerful vehicle for change," announced The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) on Twitter. "A beautiful installation at our southern border that reminds us that: “Actions that take place on one side have direct consequences on the other.” We are all connected. We are all one."

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