Pink Seesaws

Door: Rael & San Fratello.

Rael and San Fratello crafted conceptual drawings of the project, which was one of many included in their 2017 book, Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary.  While Rael said that they had been trying to turn it into a reality for some time, they increased their efforts in 2018, when the Trump administration enacted its brutal family separation policy. “We wondered if we could use this as a vehicle to connect people across the border and draw attention to the issue of child separation,” he explains.

Over the course of a month or so, Mexican metal artisans worked with Rael, San Fratello, and members of artists’ collective Colectivo Chopeke to build the seesaws. They wanted to be able to fit them easily through the wall, while positioning them in a place where people could engage with them easily. They decided to build them on the border between Sunland Park, New Mexico, and Ciudad Juárez. They painted the seesaws pink, in part because pink is the color used to commemorate the violent murders of women in Juarez, Mexico — where thousands of women have been killed since 1993 — but also because of the jarring effect of seeing the bright neon hue against the drab metal fences.

“The borderlands are a world of contrast,” says Rael. “The approach to our work is one that recognizes there is horror and humor at the border: There is the horror of xenophobia and immigration policy, and humor is our way of overcoming hardship in many ways. The project itself recognizes those contracts: there is horror and there is joy. That is embedded within its very design.””