Unity through photos at US-Mexico wall
While borders divide nations and peoples, Sandra García and Jessica Pons want to give the US-Mexico border a new purpose: promote unity. Their means: photography.
The Los Angeles-based artist duo is behind “La Frontera Unites,” an upcoming, one-day-only exhibit with works from photographers on both sides of the border. The photos will literally be hung on the metal fence that exists between the Mexican city of Tijuana and American city of San Ysidro–on a portion called “The wall on the beach” in the community Playas de Tijuana, a short distance where border starts in the Pacific Ocean.
The purpose of the visual project is “to unite photographers from USA and Mexico, as an act of solidarity through the collaboration of a group photography exhibit on the border wall that is trying so hard to divide us,” state the artists on the exhibit’s website.
The showcase is open to photographers of all levels who must register online, at no charge. The photos will go up on July 29 at 2 pm.
FROM ARGENTINA TO US-MEXICO BORDER
Interestingly, the idea of “La Frontera Unites” started thousands of miles away from the American-Mexican border–in Argentina. There, the photographers group La ColectiBA–whose name seems to merge the words “colectiva” and BA for Buenos Aires, explores the use of public spaces for their medium. Enter President Donald Trump and his plans to build what Pons and García describe as “a more divisive wall between the United States and Mexico.” So the two photographers decided to turn the existing border wall into a photo exhibit platform. If you’re wondering how it all started in the South American nation, you should know that Pons is of Argentinian descent; García is Mexican.
ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS WELCOME
You don’t have to be necessarily a pro to showcase your work. “We welcome photographers of all levels,” state the exhibit guidelines. All you have to do is register online and, on the day of the event, bring a print or even a series of photos about what the word “unity” means to you.
There are few requirements such as the mounting of photos on materials like cardboard and foamboard that allows for effective handling and hanging onto the metal fence. Hanging materials will be provided by the organizers. Participating photographers will also be responsible for dismounting their works and cleaning up the area.
In a time of heated rhetoric about immigration and a proposed Trump wall, the project got the support of the Lucie Foundation, whose stated mission is to “honor master photographers, discover and cultivate emerging talent, and celebrate the appreciation of photography worldwide”–a mission that García and Pons nicely fit.
“The mission of La Frontera Unites is to inspire an open dialogue and build an empowered community that collaborates instead of divides,” reads a recent Facebook post from the Los Angeles-based foundation.
MORE ON PHOTOGRAPHY DUO
García and Pons met each other at San Francisco State University, where they were studying photojournalism back in 2005. While they went separate ways after college, traveling the world and working on projects, they reconnected in their current hometown and worked to make “La Frontera Unites” a reality.
Pons has freelanced for news outlets like the New York Times and Esquire and received recognition from the Hearst Journalism Awards Program. García has freelanced for publications like Wired and the San Francisco-based agency Drew Altizer Photography. Also a cinematographer, García has credits in various independent film projects.
“La Frontera Unites” is open and free to the public. Also, transportation will be provided for attendees from the US crossing on foot at the San Ysidro point of entry.
They will be taken to and back from the exhibit, courtesy of the Universidad Iberoamericana de Tijuana, a main sponsor. The university’s support was ensured by another visual artist, Angel De Alba Cano, who is a professor and coordinator of the masters program of photography, according to Pons.
The day’s program will also allow for a photo swap among participating photographers before the event ends at 6 pm. A afterparty is also scheduled.