A game, a bright pink swing for children, allowed the little ones to interact with each other, although there was a wall to separate them. And not just any wall but the one that marks the border between the United States and Mexico. It is the “Teeter Totter Wall,” and this temporary installation symbolically united El Paso, in Texas, and Ciudad Juárez in Mexico for a few days. Why are we talking about it? The work won the very prestigious “Beazley Design of the Year 2020” award. An annual prize awarded by the London Design Museum.
The creators of these beautiful swings are Ronald Rael, professor of architecture at the University of California, and Virginia San Fratello, professor of design at San José State University. They first got the idea ten years ago, when they designed transnational swings at the borders for the book “Borderwall As Architecture”. These had the aim of using inventiveness and humor to deal with the futility of building barriers. And then they created them. At the Guardian, they said they hoped the project would encourage dialogue, rather than division, making people reflect on the fact that a tiny gesture, like a game, is enough to “go beyond”. “I think it is increasingly clear, especially given recent events, that America does not need to build walls, but to build bridges,” said San Fratello.
Speaking of the strange coloring of the work, the two designers explained that the bright pink was inspired by the color of the memorials of the femicides in Ciudad Juarez. They tried to pay homage to the many murdered women in the city. As for the choice of the swing, however, the duo revealed that they took the idea from the satirical cartoonists.
“Teeter Totter Wall” beat out over 70 award nominees. Including a 3D rendering of Covid-19, the production design by Lee Ha Jun of Parasite; the bulletproof vest designed by Banksy and worn by Stormzy at Glastonbury in 2019. The work to complete the installation took only 20 minutes. It immediately attracted attention on social media platforms after the duo shared a video of American and Mexican children playing with the swing.
These days, an installation present at the Grand Central Terminal Station in New York has won the most expensive work globally. It is called “Da Vinci of Debt” and is a chaotic work made up of 2,600-degree diplomas. As the title suggests, the installation focuses on the student debt crisis that weighs on 45 million American graduates. Natural Light has undertaken this project to bring attention to a problem that has a heavy impact on students’ daily lives.