- About The Artist:Marcos Ramírez ERRE and David Taylor
In 2004, David Taylor, an Arizona-based artist and professor, and Marcos Ramírez ERRE, a Tijuana-based artist, teamed up to create 47 obelisks reminiscent of the original 276 monuments that marked the border after the Mexican-American war, but sought to erect them strategically, outlining, in this manner, the pre-war border. DeLIMITations: A Survey of the 1821 United States Mexico Border, involved creating 47 sheet metal markers—intentionally designed to be rugged enough, but transportable—and going on an epic road trip to erect them along the historical border that stretches from the current day Oregon/California state line to the Gulf of Mexico just west of Louisiana. The 1821 border had never been surveyed or physically marked in its entirety. Filmmaker José Inerzia helped document the process, as the party of three loaded a van to serve as their mobile base, fabrication center and camper for 3,721 miles. Photographs of different obelisks from this project can be found throughout the pages of this volume.
Erecting these monuments took the group to a number of unforeseeable locations. In keeping historic accuracy, the team braved a diversity of terrain and weather that was at times trying—but perhaps like other mid-19th century surveyors before them—they did not waver in their commitment. The artists took a bit of a guerrilla approach to the project, not seeking out permits or permission to install their obelisks, unless they felt there was important reason to do so: a marker landing on what was obviously private property—like someone's yard—or on a Native American reservation. These instances would bring them into contact with the locals in interesting ways. They were rarely denied permission, and in fact, on one occasion overheard neighbors bickering about whose property a particular obelisk should rightfully occupy. On another occasion, the marker was installed in a public park. Looking as if it had always been there; people promptly started having their picture taken with it. While these anecdotes make for tales of humor and adventure, they also introduce a series of questions about how borders change, and how people interact with national borders based on their moment in time and space. While decisions made about a border may seem arbitrary or coincidental based on one's perspective, the outcomes of territorial disputes from nearly two centuries ago continue to have effects that determine life outcomes for millions of people.
Before DeLIMTations, in 1997 Marcos Ramirez ERRE's Toy An Horse involved a two-headed metal and wooden Trojan horse placed at the border between Tijuana and San Diego, facing both south and north. After DeLIMTations, in 2007 David Taylor set out to document the 276 monuments marking the US-Mexico border in 1849; monuments that still stand. While their art focused on the border is not limited to the pieces mentioned here, [End Page 7] these examples introduce the artists' shared purpose of exploring issues involving nationality, race and identity through geographic space. While their work is not new, new interest in this work is testament to the heightened political rhetoric around the border. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is exhibiting Taylor's Monuments until January 28, 2018. [End Page 8]