Guillermo Arias / Getty Images

A bi-national group of revelers met to celebrate an art installation along the border fence near San Diego. 

David Landsel
October 09, 2017

For a month now, a larger-than-life portrait of a small child appearing to crawl over the border fence has drawn even more than the now-usual amount of attention to the 2,000-mile line that divides the United States and Mexico.

Created by Paris artist JR, a pseudo-anonymous figure (sometimes referred to as the French Banksy), the work was a silhouette of a 1 year-old nicknamed Kikito from the small, Baja California city of Tecate, where the installation was placed.

Curiously enough, after decades where security at the border has only tightened—particularly in the built-up areas, where double fences (actually, sometimes more like walls, already) are often the norm—everyone left Kikito alone.

The child became an instant celebrity in Mexico; reporters traveled from overseas media outlets to visit Kikito and his mother and father, people began trekking out to this dusty stretch of not-quite desert about an hour southeast of San Diego, to see what all the fuss was about—from the American side, the way the silhouette was placed up on scaffolding, it appears as if the child is peering over the fence.  

After a month, however, Kikito is coming down. Yesterday, the artist and his friends hosted a picnic in his shadow—even rolling out a special, one-day-only installation that spanned both sides of the fence, a daring move that the Border Patrol, not known for their laidback approach to their work, seemed willing to overlook.

Just like the artwork, the party chose to ignore the border as well—roughly fifty people showed up on each side, had a very good time, and—once again—got away with it.

A band played Norteño-style music—singer, guitar and accordion on the American side, tuba and drummer on the Mexican side. A mobile taqueria from Tecate set up shop, passing carnitas tacos through the fence for the Americans. Cellphones were shuttling back and forth to document the whole thing. Drones flew back and forth to document the whole affair. The Border Patrol were in attendance, but seemed to have a pretty good time, too, even accepting refreshments from the revelers. For one blissful moment, it was as if the wall didn't exist.

"I had never been to the wall—you always see it, you point at it, but you never actually go up to it," says Gibrán Huerta, a San Diego native who does business on both sides of the border.

"Just going to it and touching it and shaking people's hands on the other side—it was one of the most inspiring things, ever."