• Recuerdos\Souvenirs: Memories of the U.S./Mexico Border Wall
    Ronald Rael

Ronald Rael/Rael San Fratello, Bicycle/Pedestrial Wall, 2012, Oakland, CA. Courtesy of Rael San Fratello.

Recuerdos\Souvenirs is a journey and a series of scenarios along the US–Mexico Border Wall, possibly the largest construction project in the United States in the twenty-first century. This research documents, through a series of mappings and photographs, the nascent spatial condition emerging along the border in areas where the wall either exists or is scheduled to be built. On this journey, the collected experiences are accounted for in the form of stories, drawings, images, postcards, key-chains and snow globes: souvenirs, or recuerdos—a Spanish term that defines both the trinkets one might purchase at tourist shops, and memories—in this case declarative memory that is both semantic (independent of context) and episodic (particular to context). The recuerdos gathered are tragic, sublime, and absurd, occasionally hyperbolized, but in all cases based on real experiences and events existing in the liminal space that defines the southern boundary of the United States.

Ronald Rael is an architect, author, and assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, with a joint appointment in the Departments of Architecture and Art Practice. He is the author of Earth Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press, 2008), and he earned his MArch at Columbia University.