Electric Border Fence


Electric Border Fence is an artwork that I conceptualized after visiting the border fence at the beach (Border Field State Park). What I saw was a rusty steel fence that looked like it was slapped together in the easiest and most economical way possible. The beach on the American side was litter ridden and had no visitors, while the Mexican side had quite a few people present, and appeared to be thriving, compared to the American side. This is why the English side of the steel trash bin is produced in such a way that makes it obvious that I put way more time into making the Spanish side. As I stood near the fence, a border patrol agent approached me and told me that I cannot be that close to the fence. He pointed to an orange post, that was anchored into the sand, and told me that I cannot go beyond the post. Lying within 10-15 feet was another orange post, that looked far more worn and beaten up than the post that was standing. It appeared that someone had replaced the beaten up post with a new one and simply threw the old post on the sand. I have salvaged the old post, and have incorporated it into Electric Border Fence.

The main concept of Electric Border Fence is that if America were to commit such a massive human rights violation (by deporting all undocumented residents to be homeless on the other side of the border, as Trump has suggested that we do), then we might as well dehumanize people even further by treating them like livestock. Electric fences are typically used, within the agricultural industry, to keep animals inside of enclosures of land, or away from crops. My assertion is that Trump doesn’t need to build a wall. He just needs to take the old, rusty, cheap fence that we currently have, finish building it, and run electricity through it. (Of course, I am being sarcastic).

I have again used the phrase, “Elvis has left the building but the buildings still there,” to once again make a point about the importance of unity. In the piece Elvis, it’s impossible to read the entire phrase unless you unite the two boxes and read them together. In this artwork, I have written part of the quote in English, and the other part in Spanish. Each language is on it’s own side of the wall. One must walk around the artwork several times in order to read the entire message. This signifies the importance of making the effort to see things from other people’s perspectives. Also, even any non-Spanish speaker can easily look up the two Spanish words required to be able to read the entire phrase. The primary message is that all people are better when we are united. We mustn’t allow immoral politicians or attention seeking reality show hosts to turn us against one another, for their own electoral and financial gain.

Inside of the trash bin are magenta neon lights. The buzzing of the transformer makes it obvious to the gallery patron that this is, in fact, an electric fence. The drilled holes are what make the steel bin a fence rather than a wall. Underneath the orange post is an exhaust fan which blows the warm air, created by the lights, up through the top of the post. This increases the reliability and longevity of the artwork, by keeping things cool. The result is that, in addition to the buzzing sound coming from the transformers, there is also the sound of wind passing through the cone and out of the top (it sounds a bit like a wind tunnel).

At the base of the post, is sand that I acquired from the Ed Kienholz exhibition, Five Car Stud. I worked as a guard in that exhibition many times, and it really shaped me as an artist. I had so much respect for the exhibition and subject matter, that I decided not to take even the smallest amount of sand while the exhibition was still up.  At one point, I had a few days off of work and came back to see all of the sand gone. Fortunately for me, it wasn’t actually all gone. Someone had swept approximately 2-3 tablespoons of sand into the corner of the room. I grabbed the sand and put it into a plastic glove. I knew that I would one day use it for an artwork. At the base of the orange post, on the garbage can lid, is the sand that I was able to acquire. Once again, the post stands surrounded with sand, but this time the cone is being used as an attempt to unite people, as opposed to dividing.

The U.S. has a long history of treating people of color with disregard for their human rights. The long era of White on Black Lynching is one well-known example of this. I feel that many of those same people who have no regard for the human rights of undocumented immigrants, are also just a bunch of racists who probably wouldn’t object if White on Black Lynching were still happening today, at the frequency that it once was. (Although, today, a lynching would be referred to as a “hate crime”.)

Currently, I am upgrading the Electric Border Fence to optimize its effectiveness as an artwork. Very shortly, I will be uploading updated photos to this page.