What if we stopped dividing the United States and Mexico into two separate nations, and instead studied their shared histories, cultures, and economies and acknowledged them as pieces of a single region? During the spring 2018 semester, Tatiana Bilbao organized an academic initiative called Two Sides of the Border: Redefining the Region. The Yale School of Architecture Gallery will exhibit the works of 13 architecture studios across the US and Mexico that participated in the initiative, examining regional issues across the two countries. The current political climate exaggerates differences across the border, and at a moment when migration is at the forefront of political discourse and NAFTA is being renegotiated as the USMCA, the exhibition investigates the urgency of shifting the narrative. To redefine and reimagine the border region as an integrated whole is a critical project for architectural, political, and cultural institutions today.
Two Sides of the Border is an exhibition in the form of an atlas, a book that selectively draws space and defines borders in order to produce a preferred image. The new atlas presents three perspectives: projective, objective, and subjective. The projective atlas displays work from the 13 studios’ examinations which took on interdisciplinary approaches to study and propose projects dealing with cross border issues: migration, farming labor in Ohio and Kansas, and remittance houses in Mexico to name a few. The objective atlas shows new maps by Thomas Paturet, capitalizing on the assumption that maps have the capacity to dissolve North American borders by emphasizing other geospatial relationships. These are displayed alongside historic maps presenting 400 years of shifting borders in the region, destabilizing the collective imagination of the border. The subjective atlas is a photo essay by the photographer Iwan Baan who traveled to each of the studio sites to capture their changing landscapes and architecture’s role in these regional relationships.