If President-elect Donald Trump expects U.S. taxpayers to fund the construction of his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border (that money “will be paid back by Mexico later!” he claimed), shouldn’t we at least get a say in what it looks like?
Maybe, suggests a light-hearted Change.org petition, which is calling for Trump to commission Bulgarian artist Christo to design the controversial barrier. Initiated by conceptual artist Luis Camnitzer, the petition is titled “Commission Christo with an Orange Running Fence that Separates the U.S. from Mexico.” It reads:
Dear President-Elect Donald Trump: Please commission U.S. artist Christo’s with the creation of a new a version of his Running Fence to separate the U.S. from Mexico. His first project in Sonoma was completed in 1976 with great success. Though only 24.5 miles long then, in full length today it would transform a racist project into a public art event, and help improve the image of the U.S. with a cultural veneer.
Christo (along with his late wife, Jeanne-Claude) is known for his environmental artworks that often take the form of temporary miles-long or island-sized installations across the globe. “Running Fence,” for example, stood for two weeks in 1976, consisting of an 18-foot-high stretch of white nylon curtains that extended 24.5 miles in California’s Sonoma and Marin counties.
A Smithsonian blog described the work as a mechanism that “didn’t divide the way fences do, but brought people together.”
New York City played home to another one of Christo’s installations ― a string of orange curtain “gates” that snaked through Central Park in 2005. Camnitzer called specifically for the Christo-commissioned wall to be orange, perhaps a less-than-subtle nod to the color often associated with America’s president-elect.
Most critics have appropriately interpreted Camnitzer’s petition as a funny gesture, rather than a serious suggestion. “The suggestion is hilarious, not least because it seems to pinpoint perfectly the dynamics of soft power, thus becoming eerily plausible in today’s twisted world,” Jillian Steinhauer wrote for Hyperallergic.
Since Trump promised that Mexico will pay for his highly contested wall, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray countered on Tuesday, claiming “there is no way his country will pay.” While a number of critics are doubtful the wall will ever come to be, there is some relief in imagining a reality in which Christo’s inclusive designs replace what many view as a symbol of intolerance.