Recuerdos (Souvenirs) is a journey documenting a series of scenarios, real and imagined, along the U.S.-Mexico Border Wall. It is a story that must be told, for it is an account of the largest construction project in 21st century Usonia. Almost exactly the distance of the Grand Tour, the migratory route for upper-class European men that went from London to Rome, this journey stretches along the southern border for 1,931 miles. This Nuevo Grand Tour traces the consequences of a security infrastructure that stands both conceptually and physically perpendicular to human migration. Whereas the artifacts Grand Tourists would return with (art, books, pictures, sculpture) became symbols of wealth and freedom, the border wall is a preventative measure against Grand Tourists from the south.
On this journey, the collected experiences are accounted for in the form of stories, drawings, images, postcards, key chains and snow globes: souvenirs, or recuerdos—a Spanish term that defines both the trinkets one might purchase at tourist shops, and memories—in this case declarative memory that is both semantic (independent of context) and episodic (particular to context). The recuerdos gathered are tragic, sublime and absurd, occasionally hyperbolized, but in all cases based on real experiences and events existing in the liminal space that defines the southern boundary of the United States.
Project Date: 2012
Project Team: Ronald Rael, Virginia San Fratello, Aine Coughlan, Kent Wilson, Bridget Basham, Brian Grieb, Nicholas Karklins, Emily Licht, Plamena Milusheva, Colleen Paz, Molly Reichert
Project Info: Recuerdos was awarded Honorable Mention in the Pamphlet Architecture 33/34 invited competition. The work was exhibited in TRAZANDO LA LINEA Opening Reception: Friday, May 4, 2012 (7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.) Location: Centro Estatal de las Artes, Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico.