Mention of the infamous border wall between Mexico and the United States has quite frankly become tired. But talk about the wall this week is different. Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello are finally seeing their decade-long project in action. These two individuals have been able to provide a piece of unity in the least expected place by placing pink seesaws on either side of the border wall. Their project also known as Teetertotter Wall, has been an incredible inclusion to the ill-famed border wall, especially for the children.
Ronald Rael, who is an architecture professor at the University of California, and Virginia San Fratello, an associate professor of design at San Jose State University, both have worked on the seesaw project since 2009. They had worked on this project to give the border some sense of interconnectedness, despite the politics involved. The seesaws now sit on Sunland Park, New Mexico and on La Ciudad de Juárez, Chihuahua State, Mexico.
Prior to the installation, Rael’s idea started to be conceptualized in a book he wrote. He uses his book Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary, to re-examine the subject of the wall between the United States and Mexico and what architecture could do to protest it. Something I think he managed to do very well.
“The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S. – Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways …” This was part of what Rael wrote on a post in his personal Instagram account (@rrael) alongside with a video of children enjoying the bright seesaws.
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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 #teetertotterwall #seesaw #subibaja
According to People, the Mexican side of the border were unaware of the project, so it was a pleasant surprise to them. Instinctively, the children ran towards the new installation to play with their neighbors. A heartwarming view for any spectator.
Let’s talk about the seesaws themselves too. It was also breathtaking to see such a vibrant color peeking from the murky wall that sits above the seesaws. The symbolism is just wild. Pink is a color that can emit innocence and playfulness. It can represent compassion and love as well, which is something that is so necessary to have during these trying times.
Talking about trying times, the installation of the seesaws come during a time of turmoil. Just a few days ago, Trump’s administration was given the green light to use 2.5 billion of the military’s emergency funding to build their trivial wall.
Truly, the Teetertotter Wall couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Perhaps seeing the children of both sides of the border interact will humanize the entire situation for those power-hungry officials once and for all.