How I Mapped the Fluid Border Between El Paso and Juárez for CityLab

I wrote about the movement of people and water in El Paso/Juárez and parts of New Mexico for CityLab and the process of making an animated meander map for the Rio Grande/Río Bravo because one did not already exist and sometimes you have to make the map you want to see in the world.

View full animated essay here:

https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/08/rio-grande-map-us-mexico-border-history-el-paso-rio-bravo/596227/

100 Partially Obscured Views

100 Partially Obscured Views, an in progress or a living film never to be permanently fixed. Premiered at the Feminist Border Arts Film Festival at NMSU in 2019 and screened at Judson Memorial Church on May 8th part of StoryLab’s “Borderlands–Visual Art from the Resistance!”

In 2015 I was awarded the Jerome Foundation Grant for an animated documentary project about El Paso and Juarez in the early 1990’s. This grant paved the way for two simultaneous projects: A topographical film essay about the border landscapes of El Paso and Juárez, the region where I grew up. The film is told entirely in gif-animated vintage postcards. I’m working with approximately 100 linen postcards ranging from the early 1900s with references to the Mexican Revolution and prohibition era bars to the 1960s after the formation of the Chamizal National Monument. These postcards were initially designed for visiting tourists to be mailed to friends and family living in other parts of the country as a continued effort to promote tourism in the region.  Some of the locations repeat showing different vantages points of the same place. My collaged animations range in approach from public monuments proposals, childhood memories, the impact of current policies on people and land, and other interrogations of a border landscape that I’ve witnessed transformed into a militarized zone.  This collection of postcards also denotes the transformation of an international river that has become endangered in the service of a highly militarized boundary.

Still image from “100 Views of the El Paso/Juárez Border”
Still image from “100 Views of the El Paso/Juárez Border”

El Paso and Juárez share history, share people, share each other’s gaze, they differ only because of imperialist treaties and policies, and boundary markers insist on their difference. I tried to make a film that was “trans” meaning transnational, transitional, and transient in the spirit of Anzaldua Borderlands.