When Donald Trump promised to build the border wall, people thought it was going to divide the two neighbouring countries, bigly. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a formal invitation to everyone, to design and build prototype wall structures, which has people wondering about how we can make something positive out of such a contentious issue. So, Heard Agency would like to accept this invitation and design the wall, and it’s going to be tremendous. The best wall ever built. It’s true.
The Mexican border wall follows the footprints of history. The Berlin Wall was the symbol of suppression in the Cold War. More commonly known then as the ‘protective wall’, today, the Berlin Wall stands as a remnant of a dark past. Throughout the years though, the Wall has been transformed from a scar on the face of Berlin into a memorial of freedom. It now stands as an open-air art gallery with murals painted by 118 artists from 21 different countries. This collective mindset of transfiguring a public space dates back to 39,000 years ago, when cavemen adorned their homes with proto-graffiti. And since then, we have never stopped; from the love locks of Pont des Arts to the world famous Hosier Lane in Melbourne, making art is what defines humanity.
For our prototype of the wall, Heard Agency is going to take a page out of history. We would like the wall to be an open canvas; a 3,200km space for artists from both countries, and even all over the world. Think of it as an open gallery, one that doesn’t cost the artists, yet benefits the community. So by using the wall as a way for artists to converge and preach peace, then it might linger into the future, not as a beacon of hate, but hope. Because even in the midst of chaos—like the condemned Israeli West Bank barrier—art still thrives.
Another solution is much more technologically advanced. We propose a live streaming video and audio feed to capture the emotional exchange between the two sides. American citizens north of the border and those south of it can communicate to each other visually and audibly. What they choose to do with this priceless connection is up to them; they can use it to learn each other’s language or to share stories. But the essence of it is to create a window to the other side, allowing the wall to become a fount of friendship.
Infrastructure is not just a service for the people. It can divide a nation, unify society, and send a powerful message to the world. The border wall’s main purpose is to keep Mexican immigrants from illegally entering the United States; instead it has made people feel segregated and alienated. But with the right approach, any infrastructure can be a force for good and provide a positive space for the community.