To a fascist, walling off Mexico might seem like a great idea. But after watching this film, Best of Luck With The Wall, by Josh Begley, even the most bigoted immigrant-hater will have to admit that sealing off a 2,000-mile stretch of land is an impossible task.
Begley–a Brooklyn-based artist–took 200,000 satellite images and stitched them together to make this journey along the U.S.-Mexico border. He made the movie to answer a question: “What does the Southern border of the United States actually look like?” The movie answers that question from one point of view–the actual physical look of the thing, as if you were flying above it. But the border isn’t just a notional line drawn onto the land.
“I think that there’s a way in which with the rise of the Donald that space is not even geography anymore,” said Begley in an interview with Field of Vision’s Eric Hynes. “That space has been reduced to metaphor.”
The movie, then, forces the viewer to see the reality. Talk of a wall is one thing. Building it and then policing it so that it actually keeps people from crossing it is another thing altogether and that becomes clear when you see the extent of the border.
Even Begley, whose work specializes in maps and data, was surprised by what he found. “I couldn’t have told you [beforehand] that more than half of the Southern border was river. I would have told you it was a very straight line. I think of myself as someone who spends a lot of time looking at maps and satellite imagery, and even I had such a distorted sense of our Southern border.”
A wall usually works a lot better as a political metaphor than as an actual barrier, and Begley’s six-minute film shows just how far the reality is from the ideology. One look and it’s obvious that a real wall will never be built to block the entire length of the border. But that won’t do much to diminish the political value of the idea.