1461 (A Big, Beautiful Wall)

This project was a contribution to the 45 Library |45 Library is a collection of speculations by artists, designers, and architects on the subject of the presidential library for the 45th president. | Visit https://45library.com

A Big Beautiful Wall | Matthew Villarreal | 2020 | 16” x 12” | Hand-cut collage with corn husk, gold leaf, desert photographs, open-sourced cloud image, and digitally manipulated US-Mexican flag.

THIS PROPOSAL for 45’s Presidential library consists of a series of 1461 small parks/monuments (one for each day that 45 is in office) equally spaced along the 1954 miles of the US-Mexico border. Needless to say, if 45 is elected for a second term or otherwise serves as President longer than his first term, the number increases accordingly.

The individual designs of these parks will be determined via an open call. Any artist who shares in the experience of immigration is welcome to apply.

These parks will each have a footprint of 1954 square feet and will be considered neutral ground where residents from both sides of the border can gather, talk, and render aid to each other without recourse or surveillance. 

Each park must have the following elements:

  • Fresh drinking water accessible via a drinking fountain 
  • A small multipurpose media booth that contains the following:
    • a telephone (free of governmental monitoring or tapping) to call for emergency help or asylum 
    • a digital archive kiosk equipped with a scanner, microphone and camera. Participants can use this kiosk to upload images (of themselves or objects), letters, and stories to an online archive that collects personal narratives and stories of immigrant/migrant/asylum seekers that counter the destructive and dehumanizing rhetoric used by 45 to describe this very same community.
  • A monument that includes a treated concrete slab that can turn into a shallow reflection pool when controlled by a foot pump or sensor.  
    • At the bottom of the reflection pool will be a quote taken from 45’s written or spoken word archive transcribed in both English and Spanish. 
    • When the surface is dry, one can read the transcribed quote; when the pump is activated and the surface is wet, the quote disappears and is replaced with a text of the artist’s choosing/making. 
      • Examples of replacement texts:
        • a simple emoji heart
        • “A Country of Immigrants”
        • “Braided We Stand”
  • Where existing fencing or border wall has been constructed, a victory arch will be cut out of the fence/wall and offcut materials from the fencing/wall will be used to create a bench or pergola. 

Artists are invited to think about the metaphorical, symbolic, spiritual, or practical meanings, associations, or uses of water and incorporate them into their design. Some examples include the associations of water with life, hope, purity, revitalization, baptism, or change; inversely, drowning, undertow, or flooding might prove to be equally relevant or thought-provoking.

The budget for this project will be equal to the amount spent on building/replacing border fencing during 45’s tenure in office, to be fully funded by 45 and his public acolytes via government mandated restitution.

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