Past Features

October 11, 2015

Cultural Suture?
Balloon project raises questions


“Repellent” fence of balloons crosses the border near Douglas, Arizona.
Photo by Glenn Spencer. (See larger photo)
Tucson News Now -- October 9, 2015
Big balloon 'eyes' floating over Arizona/Mexico border
    Tucson -- Twenty-eight 10' wide balloons will float 50' over the desert between Douglas, AZ and Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico starting on Oct. 9, but high winds could delay the launch. These balloons resemble eyes and are part of a 2-mile long art installation called The Repellent Fence.
    The Repellent Fence draws attention to the the geographic divide of indigenous people along the United States/Mexico border. Tribal lands are now divided by the border, which means native populations cannot move as easily across these areas as in the past.
    According to The Repellent Project, these balloons symbolically demonstrate "the interconnectedness of the Western Hemisphere by recognizing the land, indigenous peoples, history, relationships, movement and communication."
    The balloon idea came from a bird repellent product that ended up being ineffective. The artists noticed the balloons looked like eyes. "Coincidentally, these balloons use indigenous medicine colors and iconography --- the same graphic used by indigenous peoples from South America to Canada for thousands of years", according to The Repellant Fence website. The artists enlarged the balloons and tethered them to 50' of rope.
    The Repellent Project is scheduled to be installed today, Oct. 9. However, high winds could delay the launch. The installation is scheduled to be in place through Oct. 12.

Glenn Spencer
American Border Patrol Visits Ballooners
    Yesterday I visited the Repellent Fence Project as they were raising their balloons north and south of the border near Douglas. I talked at length with one of the organizers who was in a group of three people that seemed to be documenting the activities. He knew who I was and what I did. He said that the balloons represented a ‘stitching together” of common culture. I explained to him that the cultures of America and Mexico are quite different, as evidenced by the impact of illegal immigration on the educational system in California.
    I will report more on this tomorrow, but needless to say we did not see eye-to-eye on the issue of illegal immigration.

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