“It is a dry and sunlit day of December 1968 when Presidents Gustavo Díaz Ordaz and Lyndon B. Johnson step onto the newly rebuilt Paso del Norte Bridge. It straddles the Rio Grande’s new bed, connecting the border cities of El Paso (US) and Juárez (Mexico). In front of them, framed by the mountainscape, city blocks and a distant body of water, stands a black box with two red buttons...”

This narrative photo-essay retraces the history of the Rio Grande at its bend around the Franklin and Sierra Mountains. It paints the story of a wild landscape turned into a political tool, a delineation of race and class reinforced by the use of architecture as a way aestheticise a newly engineered “America”. Beginning and ending with the day the river became encased in a large concrete casquet in 1968, officialising its status as a fixed international boundary, it not only recounts the ways in which politicians, investors, developers and engineers architecturalised the borderland, but also recounts the tale of the people in between: the communities who lived across the borderline and made it home from below.

#ecologies #landscape #colonialism #borderlands #placemaking

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