Donald Trump ran his campaign for presidency on the promise that he would build a "big, beautiful wall" between the US and Mexico. On January 25, 2017, as one of the first Presidential Executive Orders, he signed into legislation the ‘Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,’ that states “the [Department of Homeland Security] Secretary shall take steps to immediately plan, design and construct a physical wall along the southern border, using appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve complete operational control of the southern border."
On Feb. 24, 2017, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), operating under the Trump administration, put forth a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) to build The Solid Border Wall Prototypes (concrete materials) and The Other Border Wall Prototypes (non-concrete materials). These were to be strong, 18'x30' high, resistant to pick axes, aesthetically pleasing on the U.S. side, and unscalable by humans. The deadline for submissions was April 4, 2017.
On April 4, 2017 three artists and designers submit a proposal to the government RFQ under the name JM Design Studio as a form of resistance and critique, with six original ideas including walls of hammocks, pipe organs, and lighthouses. Our proposal went viral with 10 others selected by the media, out of the nearly 400 submitted to CBP.. This becomes a quick lesson in how viral media operates and that a small intervention can have a big impact - even something as small as a sketch in ink on paper. It confirmed that it is doing something small can have a big impact and all forms of resistance - great and tiny - are necessary. We committed to remain in dogged step throughout each phase of this horrific wall proposal and in solidarity with the movement against it.
August 2017: U.S. Customs and Border Protection awards eight contracts to six companies to build the eight prototypes. More than half of these companies have a record of human rights violations and lawsuits pending against them for previous jobs with the government, yet they are still hired. Unfortunately, JM Studio Design was not one of the six companies selected. Four of the prototypes are made of reinforced concrete, and another four incorporate additional construction materials. Construction of the eight full-scale prototypes began September 26, 2017, giving companies 30 days to finish. The construction of the prototypes, all measuring around 30 feet (9.1 meters) tall, in the San Diego sector near Otay Mesa was completed on October 26, 2017. Testing began in late November of 2017 with a view to “preventing breaching, digging and scaling attempts.” Total cost is over $3.3 million with federal tax dollars.
January 2018: We announce our Phase Two. This includes: the Request for Designs for the Other Border Wall; a group exhibition and partnership with Flatland Gallery in Houston, TX with public designs and artworks; a growing archive of voices and visions on this website; connecting with new allies and partners along the border and elsewhere; presenting the work at the College Art Association conference in LA; site visits to the prototypes; and more.
The Other Border Wall Prototypes Exhibition at Flatland Gallery
Houston TX, February 17 - March 30, 2018
1709 Westheimer Road
Opening night: Saturday Feb 19, 6-9pm
11-5 Monday - Friday
Weekends by appt