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Seesaw project in new border wall goes up – and down – on the same day

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A pair of California university professors saw the culmination of a decade-long dream when a series of seesaws were installed in newly constructed U.S. border walls.

But as quickly as they went up, the teeter-totters came down as Customs and Border Patrol confirmed the temporary playground between the U.S. and Mexico was no more.

(Video: KPIX-TV)

The Bay Area architects, who thought of the “Teeter Totter Wall” at the beginning of the Obama administration in 2009, saw the idea come to life over the weekend along new border walls built on the New Mexico border near El Paso, Texas, according to KPIX-TV.

University of California, Berkley Professor Ronald Rael and San Jose State University Assistant Professor Virginia San Fratello  installed the three pink seesaws in the border wall in Sunland Park, New Mexico. They stretched into Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

“The teeter-totter exemplifies the notion that any action that takes place on one side of the border has a direct consequence on the other side of the border,” Rael told KPIX 5. “We can see that in the play of the teeter-totter, but we can also see that politically and economically between the two nations.”

 

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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 professors worked with a Ciudad Juarez-based group called Colectivo Chopeke to build the seesaws which were  built and dismantled on the same day.

“Both the Mexican National Guard and the U.S. Border Patrol asked what we were doing and we told them and they smiled and allowed it to continue,” he said.

“There is no playground along the U.S.-Mexico border wall in New Mexico,” a Customs and Border Patrol official said, according to Forbes.

“On the evening of July 28, U.S. Border Patrol agents encountered a small group who identified themselves as local university faculty/staff at the border wall. They had placed boards through the wall and appeared to be playing with residents of Mexico while recording the engagement,” the CBP official said. “The group removed the boards and left the area without incident after it was established that there was no advance coordination. Agents ensured that no people/goods were crossed during the encounter.”

Videos and photos of adults and children playing on the seesaws made their rounds on social media.

“There was incredible joy happening at that moment because there were families there and children there, and participants from the other side and they were having a tremendous amount of fun,” Rael said.

“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,” Rael wrote on Instagram.

“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,” he added.

The one-day effort came on the heels of last week’s Supreme Court victory for President Trump as the high court allowed cleared the administration’s plan to divert Pentagon funds to build new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico Border.

For the Bay Area architects and team behind the Teeter Totter Wall, the short-lived experience on the weekend will not be soon forgotten.

“I would very much love to continue to do these kinds of projects along the wall,” Rael told KPIX.

“The joy that was shared this day on both sides is something that will stay with me forever,” he wrote on another post on Instagram.

Rael and Fratello’s original drawings and models from 2009 are now in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, according to Forbes.

While many social media users praised the idea, others criticized the liberal ply for emotion and warned that the border wall should not be seen as an inviting place.

Frieda Powers

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