San Diego

“Strange New World: Art and Design from Tijuana”

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego | Downtown

In late spring 2006, as bitter immigration debates were raging and vigilantes patrolled the border desert, a curious billboard appeared along a San Diego freeway near the United States–Mexico line. The back view of a man dressed in combat fatigues and sporting a crew cut confronted the sprawl of Tijuana a few hundred yards away. DON’T BE A MAN FOR JUST A MINUTE. BE A MAN YOUR WHOLE LIFE, the text at the top obliquely exhorted. Shortly thereafter, an anti-immigration group with ties to the Minutemen placed a red, white, and blue billboard on the other side of the freeway that screamed, STOP THE INVASION. This battle of the billboards was precisely the sort of thing border artists have always sought to accomplish with their provocations: exposure of the hypocrisy, inhumanity, and comic absurdities of the existence of a walled frontier in the Southwest.

The first billboard, with its subtly

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