top of page


The Tijuana River flows through the border that intercepts it. For as long as I remember I’ve seen both, natural and artificial, immediate and long term changes in the river. Like when a storm falls and the channel fills up with water carrying away plants that are later reborn in the same place. I have seen how the United States keeps fortifying its physical limit, which was installed for the first time in 1909 as just a cattle fence that prevented the natural flow of animals between countries. I feel that it’s necessary to remember that migration is natural and that we’re as animals as humans. Maybe by letting go of all material belongings and even memories. In the Tijuana River in front of its border fence I faced this reality.


The first time the river spoke to me was in 2002, when from atop the bridge I saw a man fishing clothes, he was standing on his feet floating on water. The waste matter after the storm reminded me of the destructive speculations due to the San Andreas fault in the Californias. This hybrid environment between organic and inorganic attracted me with such force as a magnet, it pulled me inside its concrete to show me the ways it offers to survive. In 2010 I walked towards the border wall and went down the ramp. I got to a sewer gate where it introduced me to three men, one of them split a melon with his hands to share it. We ate between two shelters assembled with cable, cardboard, tarp, fabric and rocks, they called them ñongo. I felt that the river was sharing memories from its pre-canalization stage, when in 1960 cartolandia was created by migrants and foreigners from Southern Mexico who recycled construction materials. When I left, the canalized river said goodbye, calling me Anita. Afterwards, I dreamed of myself there as a mermaid swimming in the middle of sharks.


In 2011 I started visiting the river to see how its water trespasses nations by ignoring the limit of a yellow line painted on its concrete.  Between birds that fly barriers, insects in metamorphosis, tall and short bushes, fire dancing and a wall growing up, the only race that’s paused are humans. I passed my present of that time capturing the river’s memories  next to the illegality that inhabits this space: undocumented persons, ex- cons, organized groups and people who live connected to a chemical stimulus, they all had a strong sense of community. Together they lived a constant battle towards the servers of the power who regularly fought to capture them and turned their belongings into ashes.  The environment gave them the ability to camouflage, without caring who was going to manipulate it, it shared mounds of sand for the active servants, who dug with their paws during the day and night, while they built underground ñongos. Around these burrows the ground ensured me that even if impermanence is natural its resources are and will be a reaffirmation of its nobility towards the creatures that conform its life.


In 2015 the cartolandia post-canalization lost the battle against authorities and our coexistence cycle ended. Today is 2023 and while the wall keeps growing, the river keeps appearing in my dreams.


* multidisciplinary project Supported by the Young Creators fellowship from the National Endowment for Culture and Arts FONCA 2011-2012

bottom of page