From Collective Imaginary to Context

San Diego and Tijuana share a territory in constant flux, and they are known worldwide for the large number of residents who move between their two countries. Approximately 20,000 people cross every day through the San Ysidro Port of Entry, giving rise an incredible richness due to the array of customs, cultures, languages, ideologies and political positions that co-exist at this border, which is considered the most heavily transited in the world.

The beginnings of this exchange stretch back to the 1920s, after the implementation of Prohibition in the United States. In those years, it was very common for people from the U.S. and other parts of the world to visit Tijuana for leisure purposes; huge parties with wealthy famous people were held in the city’s luxury hotels and casinos, which offered their guests everything that was outlawed at home: in other words, cabaret shows, boxing, cockfighting, gambling, bull-fighting, music, exquisite food and, of course, beer and alcohol of all kinds.

Present-day Tijuana is described with adjectives that allude to fun, partying, long nights, and pleasure, while San Diego is primarily referenced in terms of its military-industrial complex, and the progress seen in its health and biotech industries. We believe that development and growth in both cities are one element of their complexity, and that these stereotypes of the collective imaginary don’t define their identities in any depth.

This project brings together the voices of a number of artists in order to amplify their distinct perspectives on this shared territory—each one with their own Percepción Peculiar. Despite the fact that stereotypical visions of the borderlands remain, we have the analytical capacity to perpetuate this fiction or to dismantle these myths through our own memories and lived experiences as individuals, professionals, and creatives.

As twin cities, we gaze at one another across the line, and this leads us to reflect: What is it like to live on this side and on that side? How much do we share? What shape might our professional and artistic work take living in the most transited border in the world? What impact do the shared territory, language mixing, and different traditions have? How might it be possible to co-exist in a territory that is physically divided?

As creatives, we are nurtured by these exchanges, and we believe that these dialogues and collaborative exercises are relevant for our context, as they foster opportunities to encounter the perspectives and realities of other artists. This crossing is an open channel that allows us to dialogue, observe, exchange ideas, and analyze everything that is enjoyed and consumed, as well as everything that puts our own professional life into perspective.

Among the many things that have been said about this geographic space of the border, San Diego has been called “the birthplace of California” and Tijuana the place “where the homeland begins.” As artists living along the border day in and day out, these two statements give rise to an impulse: a starting point that sparks thinking and reflections from our own professional field, which—fortunately and extraordinarily—can be discussed in both English and Spanish.


Border, Music, and Design

Inspired by this vital crossroads, we made two playlists: the first is a musical journey that incorporates textures and mixtures from around the world into the music of our multifaceted city. The second focuses on the past and present of the music scene in Tijuana and San Diego, another meaningful connection that unites this region.

A closer relationship with design did not emerge until the 1990s, as musicians and bands began to get involved with the art for their album covers. Fanzines like Cultura Alternativa en Tijuana, El Centro de La Rabia and Velocet were published, highlighting alternative ideas for new generations in design and art, interviews with national and international bands, and chronicles of the period.