Retablo Nº 28 - Rene / Chihuahua

.Retablo Nº 28 – Rene / Chihuahua, Rio Bravo, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, 2004/2016


Archival inkjet pigments on aluminum plate, magnetically attached to a unique piece of steel wall fencing salvaged in 2005 from the U.S-Mexico border wall that divided Playas in Tijuana and Border Field State Park in California, from the series Estamos Buscando A.

Image | Plate Size:  9-3/4 x 7-3/4 inches
Border Wall:  22 x 24 x 1-1/4 inches


It was a Saturday afternoon and there were groups of people waiting on both sides of the Rio Bravo, along the dirt banks in Ciudad Juárez and across the river on the concrete embankment in El Paso. The Paso del Norte Bridge was backed up with cars and full of pedestrians going back and forth.

The river was rather still with the water just above waist-high in its deepest spots. I stripped down to my underwear and made my way across the river, holding my camera bag with the Polaroid 600 SE camera, boxes of Polaroid 665 positive/negative film and a mason jar of sodium sulfite solution to fix the negatives. I found a dry area along the concrete embankment to leave my pants and the camera bag. Making sure I had a full pack of film in the camera back, I re-entered the river and stopped about halfway with the water.

Rene began to make his way across the river. He had kept his pants while holding his shirt and shoes just above the water. I made a couple of exposures. Together, we walked towards the dry embankment. A group of migrants watched as I peeled the Polaroid prints from their negatives and put the negatives in the discolored mason jar.

It must have been quite a sight for the pedestrians above watching us just stand in the river while I made photographs. I’m sure the Border Patrol agent that was sitting in his vehicle positioned above the embankment and on the other side of the steel mesh fencing in El Paso had a good time on the radio talking with fellow agents about what he had been witnessing.


Note on Salvaged Border Wall

This remnant piece of the U.S.-Mexico border wall is from the original 14 miles of primary fencing that was constructed between 1990 and 1993 from the Pacific Ocean to divide the two countries. The fence was constructed of 10 foot-high steel army surplus landing mats (M8A1) with the assistance of the Corps of Engineers and the California National Guard. The original landing mats were manufactured by the Syro Steel Company in Girard, Ohio in 1968 and were used during the Vietnam War. Each original steel mat measured 22 inches high x 12 feet long and were pieced and welded together to make the border wall.

Recently acquired for private collection.

To inquire on other works from Estamos Buscando A, please contact Jennifer Decarlo, Director, jdc Fine Art.