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Visualizing Citizenship: Seeking a New Public Imagination

In the face of a new, more divisive, political landscape, the public narrative around borders surfaces fears on all sides of of the political spectrum. Yet for architect and theorist Teddy Cruz and political scientist Fonna Forman, border communities are opportunities for civic and political creativity, rather than criminalization. These sites, to which they refer as “geographies of conflict,” are the basis of three projects that present case studies for more expansive and inclusive ways of thinking of the relationships between the United States and its neighbors, and more broadly propose that citizenship is organized around shared values and common interests, and not on the action of an isolationist nation with a homogeneous identity. Composed of videos, diagrams, maps, and visual narratives designed in collaboration with Mathias Goerlitz, the exhibition presents The Political Equator (2011), a video and wall diagram that captures a collective border-crossing performance through a drainage pipe joining two marginalized neighborhoods along the border wall that divides an informal settlement in Mexico from a natural estuary in California. Produced for this exhibition, a series of posters synthesize their work on the Cross-Border Citizenship Culture Survey (2011-ongoing), the result of a collaboration with the Antanas Mockus, former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia; his think tank, Corpovisionarios; and city officials in San Diego and Tijuana. Also featured is The Medellín Diagram (2012-ongoing), which presents a new civic model for creating spaces that generates cultural, political, and knowledge exchange based on the example of the city of Medellín and its extraordinary social and urban transformation.