Five years ago, on January 27, 2016, Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar set out on an uncommon journey: traveling in a 34-foot RV from San Diego, California, to Juarez, Mexico, crisscrossing and following the U.S.-Mexico border along the way.
Jarrar was traveling as part of Culturunners, a project initiated by Edge of Arabia in partnership with Art Jameel, in which artists travel from place to place in order to explore contested boundaries.
On the journey the group encountered border patrol agents on both sides of the border, met and worked with locals living near the border, and organized talks at art galleries and public spaces.
During his time on the road, Jarrar conceived, created and installed his latest work, “Khaled’s Ladder”, using material pulled from the border fence.
Coming from his home in the West Bank, where the Israeli separation wall shapes daily life and restricts freedom of movement, Khaled was alert to the ways in which the U.S.–Mexico border informs the experiences of those who live on either side of it, and how sometimes the border itself becomes the means of communication.
During an interview with Creative Time Reports’ associate editor, Rachel Riederer, about his new work and his ongoing interest in dismantling walls and crossing borders; Khaled spoke of how he needed to go to Jerusalem for an interview at the American consulate to get a visa.
Since Jerusalem is separated from his hometown of Ramallah by the Israeli separation wall, he required permission from the Israeli Army to cross into Jerusalem. Khaled applied, but the Israeli government didn’t give him permission; so he had to cross the wall and smuggle himself into Jerusalem for the interview at the consulate.
So the man knows a bit about “wall jumping” …
Khaled narrated that during his trip along the border, a U.S. Border Patrol officer asked him ‘Are you sure you wanna go to Juarez??!” And this shocked him because the conversation brought to his memory the same question made to an artist who was visiting him in Ramallah. She was stopped for extra interrogation by the Israeli border police. … and one of the agents asked her, ‘Why are you going to Ramallah? Do you know that it is a dangerous place to visit?'”
Khaled Jarrer used a piece of the U.S.-Mexico border wall to make a sculpture that he placed in the border town of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. The work of art is titled: “Khaled’s Ladder“
The Palestinian artist concluded stating that the U.S. and Israeli walls are “more alike than different“.
To read the full interview on creativetimereports.org, click here