Photos, video: Artist ‘erases the border’ in Nogales
Few issues in Arizona are as polarizing as illegal immigration, and there is no more potent a symbol of this divide than the fence that stretches for hundreds of miles at key crossing points along the Mexican border.
For those who oppose undocumented migration, the wall is a symbol of security and the rule of law, something that should be expanded across all 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico line. For open-border advocates, it represents fear, racism and artificial division of humanity. They would like to see it disappear.
And that’s exactly what San Diego painter Ana Teresa Fernández aimed to do, symbolically, with an art installation called “Borrando la Frontera,” or “Erasing the Border.” On Tuesday, Oct. 13, she painted a short stretch of the fence in Nogales, Sonora, sky-blue, creating the illusion of a fenceless border. And Arizona Republic/azcentral photographer Nick Oza was there to document it.
The project is the culmination of a week-plus artist residency sponsored by Performance in the Borderlands, an initiative of Arizona State University’s School of Film, Dance and Theatre.
“Art has the ability to make you see things again for the first time, even though you’ve been around it for many years,” Fernández, who was born in Mexico, said in a recent interview.
“I think the most obvious example recently was the photograph of the (dead) Syrian boy. It is an image that humanized (the issue for) a lot of people that might have opposed immigration. … I think art has the ability to soften politics and make us hear and see and understand things in a way that sometimes political rhetoric or debate won’t, because we’re so used to hearing the same thing that we just don’t want to hear it anymore.”