Pink seesaws reach across the divide at US-Mexico border

Lanre Bakare Arts and culture correspondent

A set of fluorescent pink seesaws has been built across the US-Mexico border by a pair of professors seeking to bring a playful concept of unity to the two sides of the divide.

Installed along the steel border fence on the outskirts of El Paso in Texas and Ciudad Juárez in Mexico, the seesaws are the invention of Ronald Rael, a professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and Virginia San Fratello, an associate professor of design at San José State University, who first came up with the concept 10 years ago.

In an Instagram post that has received tens of thousands of likes, children and adults can be seen playing and interacting on both sides of the fence using the seesaws, which provide “a literal fulcrum” between the countries, according to Rael. He said the event was about bringing “joy, excitement and togetherness at the border wall”.

He added that it was also about finding “meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side”.

The US-Mexico border has become one of the defining features of Donald Trump’s presidency. His promise to “build a wall” between the two countries has yet to materialise but crowded migrant detention facilities, the use of teargas at the border and the separation of children from their parents are among some of the controversial tactics deployed by US authorities as its stance has become more hostile under the Trump administration.

Related: 'A time for guerrilla DIY': how the Mexico-US border became a hub for protest art

The US supreme court recently ruled in the US president’s favour and allowed him to use $2.5bn (£2.05bn) of Pentagon funds on four contracts to replace existing sections of barrier with fencing in Arizona, California and New Mexico.

Children on the Mexican side play on the seesaw. Photograph: Christian Chavez/AP

Other art projects have been planned for the border. Estudio 3.14, an architectural practice in Mexico, designed a pink interpretation of Trump’s border wall that was inspired by the 20th-century Mexican architect Luis Barragán, employing the pink pastel colour he often used in his designs.

Dozens of artists have used the wall as a setting for projects, including the Japanese art collective Chim Pom, which created a treehouse in Tijuana with “USA Visitor Center” written on the side.