A Secretive Artist Hosted A 'Forbidden' Picnic Across A Wall At The U.S.-Mexico Border

" It’s always worth trying."

A French artist known on Instagram only as JR has made a habit of creating art that aims to raise awareness about social injustices across the world. The artist, who prizes his anonymity, garnered a plethora of media attention earlier this year with an installation known as Kikito, which consisted of a billboard-sized photograph of a1-year-old Mexican toddler of the same name reaching over a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Though Kikito is no longer present along the much-discussed border wall, JR has replaced that work with another installation that takes aim at the wall itself. His new project, which was unveiled on October 9, is called The Giant Picnic. According to i-D, JR staged a picnic on one long table that stretches equally across both sides of the border's steel barriers. The table top is adorned with a pair of strikingly sketched black-and-white eyes, with one eye residing in each country.

Around both sides of the table you can see people gathered for a picnic. Though the wall divides the table into two halves, JR notes in his caption that the people present are "eating the same food, sharing the same water, enjoying the same music (half of the band on each side) around the eye of a dreamer."

He later adds, "We forgot the wall for a minute …"

In a subsequent video clip, a fedora-clad JR sits on one side of the wall and shares a cup of tea with a federal agent on the other side of the wall. The pair clink cups and sip their tea side-by-side despite being divided by the wall. "For the last 10 years, I have been working in conflict zone, jails, borders and I always found an angel that helped us make the impossible possible," JR wrote in the caption. "The picnic today was clearly forbidden, and yet it was not shut down. It's always worth trying."

As one commenter declared, "Keep opening the minds, it may open the borders and walls!"

Though JR mentioned the inherent danger in creating a cross-border installation, he's hardly the only person who has embraced the idea of interactions across country lines. Back in 2014, the Mexican and American governments came together to make Boquillas — a once-thriving border town — accessible again by reopening one of the most important border crossings in America with a $1 million kiosk. That act helped to reignite a cross-cultural affection that was once a staple of the Southwest.

Similarly, Mexicans and Americans have been known to make the most of the border wall in the past. In 2015, a photo from 2007 resurfaced showing Mexicans and Americans playing volleyball together, using the wall itself as a de facto net.

And last but certainly not least, in October 2016, The Border Network of Human Rights worked to open the border between Mexico and the United States for three minutes so people in families who wouldn't otherwise have access to one another could hug, kiss, and spend a few precious moments together. The effort, which was part of the organization's #HugsNotWalls campaign, helped reunite family members on both sides of the border.


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