Architecture studio Rael San Fratello has made global headlines with its Teeter Totter Wall, a set of three pink seesaws installed on the slats of the US-Mexico border wall allowing children on both sides to play together. The studio, comprised of Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, has been developing the idea over the past ten years as part of its ongoing work focusing on the border wall, yet the installation only lasted half an hour. According to plans, the project originally aimed to demonstrate the delicate balance between the two nations.
Rael’s Instagram post went viral yesterday, and showed people on both sides of the wall enjoying the pop-up playground. In the post, Rael said it was “one of the most incredible experiences of his and [San Fratello’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 border wall. 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.”
Rael is author of the book Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary, which he describes as “an artistic and intellectual hand grenade of a book… both a protest against the wall and a projection about its future”. It explores the effects of the wall, and proposes numerous creative alternatives for its design and purpose, encouraging “its conceptual and physical dismantling”. Drawings and models from the book are in the permanent collections at the Moma in New York and the San Francisco Moma. Since this project went viral, the book has jumped to number one on the Amazon best seller list in architectural criticism.
This is one of many creative attacks on the wall, from JR’s huge photographic artwork showing a child peering over from the Mexican side, to Klaus Thymann’s film showing a tennis match being played across the border, despite US Customs denying permission.
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