To build a wall means to build a separation between two places. ‘I’ve hit a brick wall’, ‘he/she are driving me up the wall’- both of these imply absolutes. Most importantly, they imply perpetual absolutes.
But for Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, a wall was an opportunity to turn this definition around. On the 20ft steel fence separating the US-Mexico border, they designed a ‘Teeter-Totter Wall’ of three seesaws fitting in the gaps between the posts.
In the childhood innocence of play, these bright pink seesaws joined the recently separated Sunlight Park from its neighbouring town, Juarez. Through the seemingly trivial persuit of play, the future of the city worked to rebuild what the wall tried to demolish.
From Paper To Reality
It is to no surprise that this ‘inventive and poignant reminder of how human beings can transcend the forces that seek to divide us’, was named the ‘Design of the Year’ by the London Design Museum.
Starting as just ideas and drawings, the seesaws turned into a reality in 2019. They were transported from California to this park. And, although only in place for 20 minutes, the impact was momumental.
Such was the idea of Rael, describing how ‘the wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S- Mexico relations.’ He went on to give us further insight as to how both ‘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 different consequence on the other side.’
This snowball effect was mirrored by the Design Museum’s assistant curator, Maria McLintock. She claimed this design to be ‘more pertinent than ever’, given the current circumstances. In her words, ‘from designs that create a kinder and healthier world, to those calling out and critiquing systems of oppression, we hope it serves as a time capsule of a shifting world.’ A time capsule that, we hope, can be used to connect childhood-like innocence which forever transgresses borders.
Read more ways in which this wall has been transformed into something beautiful and poignant here.