Tracing the Line
This is the first photographic survey of the International Boundary and its landscape from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. The region along the boundary supports the deserts, rugged mountains, valleys, and two major riverss -- the Rio Grande and the Colorado. There are 276 monuments along the land boundary that measures 698 miles from El Paso to the Pacific Ocean, and fifteen pair of sister cities with a population of more than 12 million when this survey was completed in 1987.
Landscape is defined by boundaries, whether natural or human-made. A border is a line, and is the first step toward dividing space. The boundary line is a point of contact, presumes a separation, and represents an enclosure. It is meant to isolate, identify, and protect as much as it is to contain. Instead of an anonymous stretch of land, the landscape derives identity from its imposed structure.
This line is not the simple connection from point A to point B. It is a dynamic fusion of how pattern is created in the landscape. Line becomes direction, as the walker follows the line to that mountain peak. The fence is a line, just as the Rio Grande is a line. Yet the river line is constantly changing, rarely straight. It leaves remnants in the form of resacas or oxbow lakes. Line becomes new just as it leaves evidence of the old. Converging lines indicate depth while the horizon line implies distance. There are electric lines and gaging lines used by the International Boundary and Water Commission. Paths, roads, bridges, and fences with barbed wire become line. Line is implied. Lines intersect each other. The line creates tension by dividing the space, both visually and culturally.
This survey introduces new visual images of a landscape previously avoided, neglected, or fenced with "no trespassing" signs. The photographs were not taken at a prearranged time according to a specific geographic grid. Each photograph must represent an area far greater than the parameter of its rectangle. These photographs reflect not just the geography of the border, but its complexity with respect to line. They show the stage, not the participants. Yet the stage reveals the presence of the actors by how they have changed and charted the changed and charted the character of the landscape.