Anyone who drove along the Mexican border at Tecate in early September of 2017 would surely remember Kikito. Peeking over the gigantic fence is a huge image of a boy from the Mexican side. The huge art installation was a project initiated by French street artist JR. In his goal to address the lingering issue of immigration, JR decided to place the huge photograph of a Mexican boy on the Mexico-US border. When viewed from the US side, it would appear that the boy is looking into the United States from the other side.
The vision came to mind when US President Trump started talking about building a wall along the Mexican border.
“One day I woke up and I saw a kid looking over the wall. I was wondering, What is this kid thinking? What would any kid think? We know that a one-year-old doesn’t have a political vision, or any political point of view. He doesn’t see walls as we see them.”, JR shares.
In order to convey his vision, he needed to choose an ideal location where his artwork can be highly visible. He spent five months scouting for the perfect location by visiting the border in Tecate. And that’s when he met the boy Kikito and his family. JR was able to find the perfect site as well as the perfect model for his art installation. With the help of Mexican curator Pedro Alonzo, the project prospered as planned.
Right after the artwork was installed, people from both sides began to gather on the site to meet and mingle. Photos of the art installation also began to surface from social media. Although the project only lasted for a month, the demonstrative photo of Kikito has, without a doubt, touched the hearts of people from both sides.
JR poses in front of his art installation together with little Kikito himself
To mark the end of the project, JR and Alonzo announced to hold a picnic on the site of the installation. Residents from both sides of the border were invited to celebrate the day. Two wooden tables from each side were connected through the fence to create one long unified picnic table. Moreover, the long table has JR’s pair of eyes printed on it. During the picnic, people from both sides ate the same foods and played the same music together. While the band is playing a festive music, everyone enjoyed the celebration regardless of their citizenship.
Kikito and his mother were also present at the picnic on the border
The meaningful photo of Kikito may not be at the border anymore. But the message it tries to convey is forever etched in the hearts and minds of the people.