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Cognate Collective

first performed on October 9, 2012
San Ysidro Port of Entry in Tijuana, Mexico
performed ten times in 2012


San Diego, CA / Tijuana, Mexico


“Borderblaster (SD/TJ)” is a collaborative radio transmission platform engaging various groups at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the busiest land crossing in the world. The project seeks to establish new forms of public dialogue and exchange by engaging pedestrians waiting in line to cross, street performers entertaining them, informal vendors, the individuals inside the approximately 50,000 cars that pass through the crossing, formal ambulant vendors selling to those waiting in their cars and the formal vendors who are a part of the Mercado de Artesanías de La Línea, a souvenir and curios market that sits between north-bound traffic at the crossing.

“Borderblaster (SD/TJ)” consists of hyper-localized short-range radio transmissions that can be heard by cars and pedestrians waiting in line at the crossing. The series of six transmissions brought together the voices of vendors, artisans, artists, and activists in a series of conversations, readings, musical performances and interviews that sought to reimagine the Mercado de Artesanías de la Línea and the crossing as a whole as an agora.

The series was recorded and transmitted from inside of the Mercado de Artesanías de La Línea to two mobile listening stations: small wagons carrying wooden crates filled with speakers. One listening station was located at the crossing and used to play the transmissions for pedestrians waiting in line, and another was placed at the UCSD University Art Gallery, throughout the run of the exhibition Living as Form (the nomadic version).

“Borderblaster (SD/TJ)” takes its title from the name given to radio stations that transmit their signals at very high power between nations (e.g. San Diego radio stations that broadcast from Tijuana). Unlike traditional border blasters, this project localizes the transmission to the San Ysidro Port of Entry, as a way of reflecting on this particular site and the experience of juncture/disjuncture it represents.