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Anti-Trump seesaw by architect duo unites children on US-Mexico border

“Actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side,” say project founders

Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello's seesaw installation was unveiled yesterday Courtesy of the artists and University of California Press

A seesaw installation is bringing together children on the US-Mexico border in defiance of President Trump who wants to build a wall along the entire 2,000-mile boundary.

The seesaws were installed at the border fence separating Sunland Park, New Mexico, and Ciudad Juárez in Mexico; images on social media show adults and children divided by the fence playing on them. The Mexican actor Mauricio Martínez highlighted the project on Twitter, saying that “artists have installed seesaws at the border wall”.

The scheme was devised by Ronald Rael, an architect professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Virginia San Fratello, an associate professor of design at San José State University (the pair’s architectural practice is called Rael San Fratello).

In an Instagram post, Rael says: “The wall became a literal fulcrum for the US-Mexico relations, 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.”

The seesaw initiative was first mooted in 2009 when the pair produced designs for a scheme known as the Teetertotter Wall (images of the proposed playground project appeared on the cover of the 2017 publication Border Wall as Architecture: a Manifesto for the US-Mexico Boundary).

The book, published by University of California Press and edited by Rael, proposes that “the nearly 700 miles of wall is an opportunity for economic and social development along the border that encourages its conceptual and physical dismantling; the book takes readers on a journey along a wall that cuts through a ‘third nation’—the Divided States of America”.

The original designs for the Teetertotter Wall, which appeared on the cover of the 2017 publication Border wall as Architecture Courtesy of the artists and University of California Press

Rael adds: “[This is] one of the most incredible experiences of my 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 Art Newspaper understands that the piece has since been dismantled.

On 27 July, Trump was given the green light by the US Supreme Court to use $2.5bn in Pentagon funds for a section of the wall on the southern border. The move means that wall projects can now begin in certain areas such as Arizona, California and New Mexico.