Where the U.S. Meets Mexico, a Surfer-Artist Is Making a Statement About the Absurdity of Borders

In Border Field State Park, on the beach where San Diego and Tijuana meet, a fence made of poles placed a few inches apart, stretches from the sand into the water, extending just past the surf break. Artist Diego Palacios saw this border for the first time on a surf trip “I was aware of how it mirrored my Mexican-American identity,” he says. Surfing there has been strange and usually solitary for him. “The experience is like nothing I've ever done,” he says. “There exists an emotional heaviness that comes and goes.” While it's still illegal to cross from one “side” to another, there’s no tangible difference between the waves and, once you’re beyond the wall, no barrier.

“I am of course literally between the United States and Mexico, between the sea and land,” he reflects. “But I am also between surveillance and freedom and the history of natural migration and colonialization.”

Palacios approached the Echo Park-based alt-space Machine Project with a proposal: what about a surf day along the border, with people starting on either side, paddling out and catching waves together?

learn more