City Lines: Crossing the World’s Divides

City Lines: Crossing the World’s Divides

and divisions the world over – whether naturally,
socially or politically occurring – can bring insight into where
and why boundaries exist between people, places and things. They
are tremor lines of what history has left behind, from religious
realignments and social divisions to geopolitical borders. Here, we
consider a snapshot of the many lines drawn – sometimes literally –
in the sand.

The City of Los Angeles and Bel Air

United States

is a city of contrasts: glamour and luxury in
Bel Air
and Beverly Hills versus the gang-ridden violence of
South Los Angeles. Sunshine and noir; sparkling utopias and dark
corners. Mexicans, Koreans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans are crowded
into a downtown area that has failed to become the city’s centre,
while the density of wealth is portioned neatly into Bel Air, where
expensive houses sit on relatively small parcels of land, acquired
at great expense. The contrasting lines of the bankrupt City of
Angels and the proportion of wealth in rose-pruned Bel Air is
palpable and telling.

West and East Berlin


Snapped from 200 miles up, this image, taken by International
Space Station astronaut Chris Hadfield, shows street lighting in
the two halves of Berlin.
“Berlin at night. Amazingly, I think the light bulbs still show the
East/West division from orbit.”

The street lamps in West Berlin were reinstalled in the 1980s,
when environmentmental concerns became a political issue in the
West. As a result, the lamps in West Berlin are much more
environmentally friendly than those in the East. This photograph
highlights the division that sundered the city for more than four
decades after the end of World War II and today in East Berlin the
district’s street lamps still bear the hallmarks of the city’s

The US-Mexico border

Six days into Trump’s presidency the US-Mexico border was noted
as a top priority. Since then, eight prototypes have been developed
for Trump’s proposal of a multi-billion dollar wall spanning some
1,000 miles along the United States-Mexico border. But the border
has been a contentious site for much longer than the current news
cycle’s focus on Trump’s wall.

Artists, in particular, have been emotionally triggered by the
concept of a border and have long felt compelled to create work
about and even at the US-Mexico border. Site-specific works
emphasising immigration, border security and transnationalism –
such as Jeanne-Claude’s iconic Running Fence and more recently Ana
Teresa Fernández’s Erasing the Border project have been created in
response to increasing fortifications. A few metres from
Fernández’s 2011 intervention, performance artist ERRE staged
Re/flecting the Border in collaboration with artist Margarita
Garcia Asperas. The piece placed a tall mirror against the divide,
with a long table jutting out from it along the Mexican side. A
communal dinner was held there, its reflection in the mirror
creating the appearance of a cross-border meal.

Silfra’s Tectonic Plates

Silfra is the name given to the rift between the North American
and Eurasian tectonic plates. The rift was formed in 1789 by
earthquakes accompanying the divergent movement of the two plates.
Right at the crux the fissure widens incrementally, meeting and
drifting apart from one another about two centimetres per year.

A “no man’s land” between two continents, the Silfra fissure in
Iceland is a slim-line divide. Certain points are so narrow you can
touch North America and Europe at once. Home to some of the
clearest water in the world – thanks to constant filtering by a
lava rock it is a place where scuba divers can see right into the
earth in a geological sense; at least for those willing to brave
the 206-foot descent.

Discover More
A Long Line in the Sand: Journeying Along the US-Mexico Border