in cycling, travel

I love to climb mountains. Be it by foot or on a bicycle. There is something to it, but don‘t ask why. It‘s not about the physical challenge, though that‘s definitely a part of it as well, it‘s about exploring the surroundings, the world we live in, and – maybe – finding a broader perspective, catching a view beyond the day-to-day horizon.

On top of Otay Mountain

Right now, I am climbing up Otay Mountain by bike. Clashing tribes of native Americans used to meet on its summit to smoke peace pipes and settle their disputes here. Winding my way up over a well-maintained gravel road, the only breathing creatures I meet are about a dozen of Border Patrol Cars. Otay mountain, as part of the Ysidro Mountain area, sits right next to the United States-Mexican border, overlooking Tijuana‘s sprawling suburbs and the border fence that cuts like a straight line through the Otay Valley, keeping Mexico from spilling into the United States.

From a distance, I can also spot Donald‘s border wall prototypes. Eight wall pieces by different potential contractors stand, 30 feet (10 meters) tall, in line next to each other like sculptures in a gallery. “I thought about Stonehenge. It’s so strong.” Christoph Büchel, a Swiss art-provocateur, said.1 Mr. Büchel launched an initiative to declare these prototypes as land art, and a National Monument. “When you look at it here, and you see everything, it’s quite a strong conceptual impact. Visually it is really striking. That’s why this should be preserved because it talks so much about our history.”3 He also organizes prototype tours. Slightly different tours to those artificial stone pieces are provided by a Tijuana based travel agency under the title “Against the Wall – a border proximity pilgrimage.”4

Bird eye’s view of the border wall protoypes

I just look at it from afar like a bird. It‘s worth recognizing that in all the political discussions about US president Donald‘s border wall project the question is not about whether to fortify its borders or not. The question is on how and how much money is supposed to do the job. The question is, whether the US should build a solid concrete wall 10m high (depending on whom you ask, cost estimations range from 12 and 70 billion USD) or whether a simple double fence it enough. It’s also worth noting that about 650 miles (1050 km) are already fenced off. The state of California, a fierce opponent of Donald‘s wall project, has a steel fence in place since the early 1990ies.

Looking over to Tijuana Beach from the US side

The Mexican photographer Pablo Lopes Luz captured stunning aerial images of the US-Mexican border in his “Frontera (Border)” series. They feature beautiful landscape photography revealing the border as a “scar in the topography of the region inscribed by man.”5 Watching these images on display in San Diego, as well as coming back again and again to the live impressions of the fence from the mountains of Jacumba or Ysidro or the beach of Tijuana, I cannot help but feel a visual reminiscence of the Great Wall of China. But it‘s not just a visual reminder.

The Great Wall of China near Beijing

The Great Wall of China is recognized as one of the most impressive architectural feats in history. Is it a coincidence that this remarkable amount of energy and money went into designing and building a structure to keep people out? The Wall of China might have the melancholy of ancient history attached. But it is precisely this ancient and medieval mindset that is having a comeback today. “We may live in an era of globalization, but much of the world is increasingly focused on limiting the free movement of people.”6

Another flashback, beaming back into medieval times: The absurdity of separation walls really hit me ten years earlier. I was visiting Rachel‘s Tomb. It is not only the third holiest site of Judaism, but it is also considered sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. The entrance is heavily fortified. The Israeli West Bank barrier was built around the tomb, separating it from the rest of Bethlehem with a series of huge concrete barriers. With the privileges of a Western European passport, I could drive in between walls and visit the tomb. With the privileges of a Western European passport, I could also drive through Israel to Hebron, pass through a checkpoint to Palestinian territory after playing soccer with Palestinian kids, take a shared taxi to Bethlehem and then walk through fortified checkpoints and barriers back to Israel.

Trying to find Rachel’s Tomb

I remember a scene walking through Hebron H2 with an Israeli activist and a Palestinian resident. A military patrol stopped us, asking for papers, followed by the question: What religion we have? What an odd question for security control. Reluctantly I identified as a Christian (although I left that club as soon as I was old enough). The soldiers seemed baffled when noticing a Jew, Muslim and Christian could walk around together, obviously enjoying each other‘s company.

There is a reason to build walls; They are deemed to be effective. Terrorist attacks in Israel declined from 73 before building the Westbank Barrier to just nine after completion of the first continuous segments.7 Apprehensions along the San Diego border region with Mexico secured by a security fence are said to have dropped from 202,000 in 1992 to 9,000 in 1994.8 Of course, we don‘t talk about the price, both in human and environmental costs, that come with these barriers.

Growing up in Europe at a time where walls and borders fell, I might have been led into false optimism. Whereas the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall which were crushed in my childhood, were primarily designed to keep people in, and in line, today’s walls are built to keep people out. And they are not only built in the US or in Israel, they are built in Europe as well. The EU has long fortified its borders around Spain‘s enclaves in Northern Africa. For most of Europe, the Mediterranean Sea serves as a natural barrier where thousands of refugees drown each year. But today Europe‘s nation-states start to isolate themselves again, with Austria fencing parts of its border to Slovenia, Hungary fortifying its borders towards Serbia and Croatia. The British financed a barrier in the French port Calais. Bulgaria is walling of Turkey, Norway fencing of Russia. Germany deals with Turkey, paying lots of money to keep the refugees there. Turkey – in return – is building barriers along its borders to Syria and Iran.

Zoom out worldwide: India fenced off its borders to Bangladesh, Ecuador is building a wall along Peru9. The list goes on.

The US – Mexico border fence near Jacumba

Back to Donald‘s wall and Büchel’s artistic provocation. “I understand the idea behind the project, but I worry that it implies that Donald’s wall is somehow unique,” said Jones, professor of Geography, at the University of Hawai’i and author of Violent Borders and Border Walls, “The reality is that there are already almost 70 border walls around the world that force migrants to take ever more dangerous routes to cross borders.”10

There is a reason to build walls: It keeps them out. Ultimately these walls are built so that we can keep living our lifestyle and they die.

The question is, why does the art stop here at this relatively minor provocation? Why not build The Great American Wall? As an art piece. As a vast sculpture, a monument and legacy for future generations of humanity. Long after the collapse of this civilization, when surviving bands of homo sapiens set up about to start a new civilization, maybe it will remind them of their failing ancestors, how we were exploiting each other, driving us apart and destroying the very planet we live and depend upon.

But then it is likely, at least a few  – if not a majority – of competitive humans will keep pushing and repeating the same mistakes over again, and they will build a theme park and tourist industry along these strange ancient architectural leftovers.

 

The Mexico–United States border at Tijuana (in one line)

I did my own visual investigation into US-Mexican border, pulling it into a straight line. For a full preliminary overview see: http://m.ash.to/border-us-mex

References:

1 Los Angeles Times, Is it inspired or irresponsible to call Donald’s border wall prototypes ‘art’? http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/miranda/la-et-cam-christoph-buchel-border-wall-prototype-20180208-story.html

3 New York Times, Is Donald, Wall-Builder-in-Chief, a Conceptual Artist? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/03/arts/design/is-donald-trump-wall-builder-in-chief-a-conceptual-artist.html

6 Reece Jones, Violent Borders. Refugees and the Right to Move, Verso
https://www.versobooks.com/books/2516-violent-borders

9 The Guardian, ‘Donald-style’ border wall between Ecuador and Peru causes fierce dispute, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/20/ecuador-peru-border-wall-dispute-trump-wall


Also published on Medium.

Webmentions

  • gay connect cam chat

    gay webcam chat zoom https://gayinteracialchat.com/

  • chat random gay chat

    snap chat gay teens cum https://free-gay-sex-chat.com/

  • local gay chat rooms

    free chat now gay https://gaymusclechatrooms.com/

  • popular gay chat 360

    chat with gay thai boys https://gaychatnorules.com/

  • boy chat strip nude webcam male gay

    gay phone sex chat https://gayphillychat.com/

  • free 60 minute trial phone chat gay local

    gay phone chat manhole https://chatcongays.com/

  • live gay webcam chat rooms

    mature gay chat https://gay-live-chat.net/

  • gay online chat

    gay chat washington https://gaychatspots.com/

  • hairy gay men chat free

    gay chat men’s room https://gaychatcams.net/

  • free gay chat room

    mature gay chat https://newgaychat.com/

  • chumba casino online gambling

    platinum play online casino https://casinosonlinex.com/

  • caesar casino online nj

    online casino canada https://online2casino.com/

  • jackpotcity online casino

    casino online free games https://onlinecasinos4me.com/

  • top dating sites

    free online sating https://onlinedatingservicesecrets.com/

  • dating apps

    free onilne dating https://zonlinedating.com/

  • meet singles for free

    topchatsites chat https://virtual-online-dating-service.com/

  • adult date site

    match dating https://freeadultdatingpasses.com/

  • free websites to meet single women

    adult date site https://lavaonlinedating.com/

  • best dating site usa

    new dating https://wowdatingsites.com/

  • datinghotlot

    dating chat free https://datingpersonalsonline.com/

  • dating sites that are totally free

    online dating for singles https://speedatingwebsites.com/

  • all free dating site

    match dating site https://online-internet-dating.net/

  • japanese singles dating sites

    simple-dating life https://adult-classifieds-online-dating.com/

  • cdff dating site login

    free dating websites https://adult-singles-online-dating.com/

  • american dating

    free online dating and personals https://onlinedatingbabes.com/

  • dating gmail germany

    local singles in my area https://freephotodating.com/

  • gay dating argentina

    latino gay dating site’s https://datinggayservices.com/

  • gay on line dating

    gay dating website https://gayedating.com/

  • free gay dating sites grindr craigslist

    gay dating discord https://gay-singles-dating.com/

  • vpn router best buy

    free vpn for dark web https://rsvpnorthvalley.com/

  • vpn for pc free

    vpn app https://free-vpn-proxy.com/

  • best vpn for firestick free

    vpn chrome extension free https://superfreevpn.net/

  • vpn free google chrome

    best vpn for hulu https://imfreevpn.net/

  • the best vpn free

    nord vpn https://ippowervpn.net/

  • best vpn mac

    where to buy vpn https://freehostingvpn.com/

  • vpn router

    best vpn for 2022 https://shiva-vpn.com/

  • best free vpn for utorrent

    vpn for firestick free https://freevpnconnection.com/

  • canadian online casino

    online casino real money paypal no deposit https://casino8online.com/

  • online caesars casino

    red dog online casino https://all-online-casino-games.com/

  • online cash casino

    borgata online casino customer service https://ownonlinecasino.com/

  • betfair online casino nj

    online mobile casino https://onlineplayerscasino.com/

  • online casino pennsylvania

    online casino florida https://casino-online-jackpot.com/

  • biggest online casino bonus

    best online casino sites https://casino-online-roulette.com/

  • las atlantis online casino

    mgm online casino bonus code https://vrgamescasino.com/

  • online casino spain

    online casino with no minimum deposit https://1freeslotscasino.com/

  • which online casino has the best payouts

    free online casino games win real money no deposit https://cybertimeonlinecasino.com/

  • highest payout online casino

    free online casino bonus https://internet-casinos-online.net/

  • viva slots vegas™ free slot casino games online

    riversweeps online casino download https://free-online-casinos.net/

  • online casino games win real money

    online casino big winners https://9lineslotscasino.com/

  • slots wynn online casino

    casino online pa https://onlinecasinosdirectory.org/

  • gun lake online casino

    online casino testen https://trust-online-casino.com/

  • 888 online casino

    online casino table games https://newlasvegascasinos.com/

  • vegas x online casino

    casino online slots https://onlinecasinofortunes.com/

  • real casino online for real money

    online casino promo codes https://firstonlinecasino.org/

  • double down casino online

    online casino promotions https://download-casino-slots.com/

  • help with writing dissertation proposal

    top servis https://customthesiswritingservices.com/

  • masters dissertation

    buy dissertations https://dissertationhelperhub.com/

  • how long should a dissertation be lse

    help with writing dissertation proposal https://dissertationhelpspecialist.com/

  • best dissertation writing

    mba dissertation help https://writingadissertationproposal.com/

  • dissertation format

    data analysis dissertation help https://customdissertationwritinghelp.com/

  • phd dissertation writing

    writing doctoral dissertation https://businessdissertationhelp.com/

  • creative writing lindenberg

    whats a dissertation https://bestdissertationwritingservice.net/

  • uk dissertation writing

    help dissertation thesis advice https://writing-a-dissertation.net/

  • dissertation help service quality

    writing dissertation service https://examplesofdissertation.com/

  • writing dissertations

    dissertation https://accountingdissertationhelp.com/

  • phd without dissertation

    writing a doctoral dissertation https://dissertationhelpexpert.com/

  • dissertation chapters

    writing help https://dissertationwritingcenter.com/

  • citing a dissertation mla

    dissertation service https://helpwithdissertationwritinglondon.com/

  • thesis help

    mba dissertation help https://professionaldissertationwriting.com/

  • dissertation proposal methodology example archived

    dissertation writing and editing https://professionaldissertationwriting.org/

  • 1highest

    1bostonian

  • 3quarter

    2skeptical

  • "sereen" "gay dating"

    “sereen” “gay dating”

    On borders and border walls – BackFace