23 June 2008
Fences and Walls
Nogales Fence - U.S. Side
AP photo by John Miller
This week I'm starting out on a new printmaking journey, a series about borders. I'm especially interested in political borders, past and present, where human beings have built fences or walls in order to keep out other human beings.
I'm starting close to home with the 1,952 mile-long (3141 km) U.S.-Mexico border. Currently a series of unconnected separation fences exist, mostly in urban areas. Around five thousand people have died or been killed trying to cross the border in the last thirteen years, according to a document created by the Human Rights National Commission of Mexico, as the fencing in urban areas forces illegal immigrants to attempt desert crossings.
In October 2006, President Bush signed a law authorizing and partially funding the construction of an additional 700 miles (1,125 km) of physical fence/barriers. Objections to the fencing as proposed include charges that it would divide three Native American nations, would divide the University of Texas at Brownsville into two parts, and will block river access and destroy essential vegetation for many native and migratory species.
The longest portion of the new fence, 361 miles, would be along the Arizona-Mexico border. I've selected a satellite view of the border at the popular border city of Nogales, Mexico, which is separated from her sister city, Nogales, AZ, by a 15-foot high fence. A great article by Kevin Clarke about the effects of the fence on Nogales can be found by clicking here.
The satellite view I've chosen as my starting point is at the eastern portion of Nogales where you can see that the Mexico side of the city is much more densely populated than the U.S. side. The current fence, surplus from the Gulf War, was erected in 1995 and is so effective that most who want to cross now head east a few miles out of the city where the fence trails off. Also to the east of Nogales about 30 miles is the place where the Spanish explorer Coronado crossed into what we now call the American southwest in his search for the fabled city of gold, Cibola.
I'm hoping to work a little more loosely with this print than I did with the Three Prophets. I have some visual elements I may include (fence climbers, border helicopters, conquistadors), but I'm not sure yet how they'll all fit together. The prints will be 22" x 14" (56 x 35.5 cm) on 26" x 19" Japanese paper.
Hillside houses in Nogales, Mexico