For three days, 26 tethered balloons soared over a two-mile stretch at the borderlands of Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Sonora as part of a land art installation called Repellent Fence. Repellent Fence was created by Postcommodity, a local collective of artists comprising of Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez, and Kade L. Twist. Together Postcommodity forms an alliance of interdisciplinary artists who challenge public perception by creating visual metaphors for our challenging 21st century environment.
The iconography of Repellent Fence is a direct reading of the relationship between the Western Hemisphere and indigenous histories. It calls upon our need to mend, heal, and resolve disparities between border nations. On each of the 26 balloons is a an enlarged symbol of a logo associated with an ineffective bird repellent product while the patterns of yellow, red, and blue are medicinal colors used by indigenous cultures of South America to Canada for thousands of years. The visual acuities translate into a powerful and emotional metaphor for a bi-national dialogue between two borderland countries with the goal of acknowledging and respecting the movement of indigenous culture.
Border art has the ability to educate and change perspective of earlier established geographies. It allows for the creation of new spaces starting at inception where division is obsolete. Postcommodity challenges the discord of the U.S./Mexico border politics by encouraging dialectic between border nations. By establishing a network of dialogue, the hope is for Repellent Fence to further aid in sustaining a healthy and communicative environment for citizens and indigenous people at the borderlands who have lost their ancestral land due to militarization.
After spending time in Agua Prieta, the need for bi-national dialogue becomes more transparent. Does the opportunity for change exist on both sides of the border? When speaking with a colleague about Repellent Fence, we began to wonder how many citizens crossed over from Agua Prieta to Douglas for borderlands-related events. In an effort to challenge the sociopolitical, economical, and geographical discourse of the borderlands, whom does collaboration start with?