As seen by last night’s Republican debate, the topic of Immigration Reform will continue to be harped upon throughout the 2016 Presidential race. Particularly in the southwest, many artists have been inspired to create artwork that attempts to explore this sensitive and complex issue. As is the case with Mexican-American performance artist Ana Teresa Fernandez’s recent project Borrando la Frontera “Erasing the Border.” Here she sought to “erase” a section of the oppressive tall metal fence that separates Mexico’s Playas de Tijuana and San Diego’s Border Field State Park.
“The idea behind the project is to blur the border fence into the landscape giving the impression that a portion of it is missing,” she explains, “an illusion of a hole in the wall, where your imagination is able to cross between these two countries freely.”
This is the second time the artist has executed “Erasing the Border,” the first being in 2011 after Fernandez began wondering if poor communication between the two countries was the crux of the issue. While the 2011 project was more about performance, this installment was more about community engagement. Coinciding with the Performance in the Borderlands initiative, Fernandez welcomed fellow artists, students, community members, and even border patrol officers to assist her in painting a 50-foot strip of the U.S.-Mexico border fence blue.
The project has stirred up a bit of controversy from viewers who don’t understand the premise of the fence painting. “Erasing” the fence is not an attempt to rally for its removal nor is it a campaign for unrestricted immigration – it’s about obscuring an abrasive prison-like quality of the landscape and stimulating friendly and progressive communication.
Fernandez says she’d like to “continue the trajectory of the fence,” and has even been commissioned to do a similar installation on border lines in Texas. Regardless of your opinion about border control, it’s difficult to deny that creating a more peaceful dialogue couldn’t help in addressing this complex topic.