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A member of Artcolectivist projects a protest message against a border wall prototype (all screenshots via YouTube)

For about 30 minutes on a recent evening, the Trump administration border wall prototypes in San Diego were illuminated with images and messages that critiqued the controversial construction project. Stationed on the Mexican side of the existing border fence, artists and activists projected the light graffiti onto the eight panels, working with San Diego’s Overpass Light Brigade (OLBSD). The November 18 action marked the first political activism against the prototypes, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

One of Artcolectivist’s projections on a border wall prototype

Video footage posted to YouTube captures the group shining large lamps to project images of a ladder, the Statue of Liberty, and a luchador — symbolizing a fighter against justice — on the walls. Other messages included the phrases “#RefugeesWelcome,” “#NoOneIsIllegal,” “Build Bridges Not Borders,” and a stick figure with the word “¡Llegale!” below it, which visually resembles the word “illegal” but means “Come in!” in Spanish.

Calling itself “Artcolectivist,” the binational group included students from UC San Diego, members from People Over Profits San Diego, and artists who designed the images.

“The entire event was an example of how borders can bring people together, as UCSD students, faculty, Mexican nationals, and US activists all met and created the event in response to the erection of fascist architecture on OUR BORDER,” OLBSD wrote on Facebook. “San Diego is and ever shall be, a border town. We are her citizens, and we shall defend her.” 

One of Artcolectivist’s projections on a border wall prototype

Completed and unveiled in October, the eight prototypes by the four American general construction providers who were awarded contracts measure about 30 feet tall and together cost between $2.4 and 4 million. US Customs and Border Protection officials have since been testing them for “breachability” — how someone might cut through, dig under, or climb each one.

“We know that this is a ridiculous expenditure, a waste of money, so we’re really here to point that out that this is not an appropriate use of American technology,” an anonymous member of Artcolectivist says in the video. “We thought we would participate in the tests by testing how well they’d stand up to light graffiti.”

What’s next in the border wall project is uncertain, especially as lawsuits seeking to block the wall’s construction — including one filed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra — are pending. The Trump administration has requested a hearing on February 9 to dismiss the lawsuits, to be held before US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump has previously attacked for his Mexican ancestry.

One of Artcolectivist’s projections on a border wall prototype

Members of Artcolectivist in the neighborhood of Las Torres in Tijuana, stationed near the existing border wall

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Claire Voon

Claire Voon is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Singapore, she grew up near Washington, D.C. and is now based in Chicago. Her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, VICE,...