LISTEN WHILE YOU READ
Last week I returned to Nogales with local videographer and photojournalist Mamta Popat for a mini border wall tour and playing session. (Click for video).
With the sun still low on the horizon, we parked atop a hill overlooking the split city of Nogales-USA/ Nogales-Mexico and set up our respective gear.
At that hour of the morning when Nogales is just waking up, the sound environment is rich with barking dogs, human voices, rooster crows, peacock screeches, puffs of wind, raucous birds, rumbling vehicles and droning construction.
Listening to the wall via a contact microphone and headphones it was often impossible to tell which sounds were American and which were Mexican.
International boundaries mean nothing to sound.
In 2006 when I began The Anta Project and set out to transform the border with a cello bow, the roughly three mile Nogales Wall was a prototype for international containment.
Built in an almost slap-dash fashion during the mid-1990's from surplus military helicopter pads, the Nogales Wall was more symbolic than deterrent.
Once constructed migrants found they could easily climb over it, tunnel under it or simply walk around it, often risking their lives in the process to do so.
Since that time, walls to the east and west have sprawled across open desert and through fragile wetlands drastically impacting the people and environment.
The new walls, built mostly from cement-filled steel pipes and mesh offer interesting tones, but sonically they can not hold a candle to the original Nogales Wall.
And with all these new walls the fear and loathing grows.
Three years later the Nogales Wall still sounds good when played with a cello bow and implements of mass percussion, but I was struck by how time and the elements have begun to take their toll on the structure and the surrounding landscape.
Nothing lasts forever.
Migrant worker exploitation.
Puritanical drug laws.
Fear and loathing.
Even border walls must eventually succumb to The Great Inevitable.
Just ask Ozymandias...
Thursday August 27, 2009