The U.S.-Mexico border has always been a point of heated debate, especially now that the redesign of the San Ysidro Port of Entry is under way. Remember when a chunk of construction collapsed in 2011? Yeah, not great.
One of the complaints I’ve heard, and made, is that the new border is uninviting. The large concrete walls and steel bars give the impression you’re entering or exiting a fortress rather than a country rich with vibrant culture.
That’s why the U.S. General Services Administration’s $500,000 to commission artists to create new works be displayed at the border crossing is so exciting. It’s a chance to beautify the port of entry, create a more engaging crossing experience and hopefully boost tourism on both sides of la linea. Artist proposals are being accepted until Oct. 6.
The complexities of the border are at the center of another artistic endeavor this week: “The Fence/La Barda,” a bi-national, interactive and collaborative series kicking off Saturday at Art Produce Gallery in North Park.
The art installation, performance and lecture series was organized by the Feminist Image Group (FIG) and Tijuana’s Distrito Diez Gallery. A fence will divide the event space, forcing visitors to cross to each side to view works by Tijuana and San Diego art makers. Among the artists involved are Anna Stump, Bhavna Mehta, Lourdes Huerta and Panca.
“What happens – to me at least – is that the aggravation of crossing the border takes away too much time and energy,” said participating Tijuana artist Jill Marie Holslin. “At the end of the day, I have little energy left to collaborate with other artists, and much less, any desire to return to that place – the border crossing – that makes me feel so angry and frustrated.