They say a picture tells a thousand words and that couldn’t be truer than with this idea.
It is magnificent in its simplicity.
One of those images that was always going to travel like wildfire and say so much with so little.
The Big Idea
Professors Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello created a series of bright-pink seesaws at the US/Mexico border, using the wall’s structure as a natural fulcrum for the playground favourite. They then shared imagery of children playing together, as if nothing divided them.
If nothing else was released alongside the imagery it still told us all we needed to know.
A beautiful reminder that we are all connected, and that the actions of one side effect the other.
And also, that children don’t see the divides that have been created by adults. They just see other children and an opportunity for happiness.
What was beautiful to watch was the infectiousness of their joy, extending to parents and even border guards.
What They Did
As well as being everywhere on social media, the story was picked up widely – in every corner of the globe and from Rolling Stone magazine to Dezeen and everything in-between.
It turned out that the artwork – entitled Teeter-Totter Wall – was part of the WPA 2.0 project that started in 2010 and called for designers to reimagine infrastructure and public works projects.
It was a throwback to the 1930s-era Works Progress Administration that employed artists during the Depression. In 2010, Congress had just passed the Secure Fence Act, which funded the construction of the wall and it was then that Rael and Fratello first became interested in its impact.
The two created conceptual drawings of the idea, and included them in their 2017 book, Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the US-Mexico Boundary. The Trump administration’s 2018 ruthless family separation policy gave them the impetus to turn it into reality, and they’d been working on it for a year.
Turns out building it was the easy bit, but actually installing it took guts.
They talk of the fear they felt when approaching the wall and their surprise and delight at the guard’s reaction – who actually smiled when they saw what they were doing. Another day, and with other guards it could have been very different.
I think this is my favourite thing this year.
I like that it’s not tackling hate with hate. I like that it’s not a picture of a dead child, but a laughing one.
I like that it’s just beautifully designed and rendered; the playful pink standing out against the harsh gun metal grey.
I like everything about it.
There’s nothing I’d change. There’s nothing to change. It’s just perfect.
And only time will tell if it will turn the tide of opinion enough to halt Trump’s decisive agenda and stem the flow of hatred, which is so much more damaging than the flow of people.