On the Political Equator

An exhibition and conversation with Sergio Fajardo and others about the relationship between public policy, social justice, and civic imagination


Fields of Knowledge
  • Comm. Development
  • Design
  • Health / Sustainability
  • Politics / Economics
  • Public culture
  • Social Justice

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Political Equator 3


Teddy Cruz, Aaron Levy


Conversation filmed and edited by Aaron Levy and Andrea Ngan. Portraits filmed by Deborah Forster, Andrea Ngan, Quilian Riano, Pelin Tan, and Aaron Levy; Portraits edited by Megan Velong.

Process initiated


Opens to public



Tijuana River Valley
National Estuarine Research Reserve
U.S.-Mexico border

Don Felix Café
San Ysidro, California
U.S.-Mexico border


0% Formal - 100% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce "On the Political Equator," a video installation on view from July 7-October 11, 2011. The project responds to the widening gap between wealth and poverty, the polarizing politics of fear and paranoia, and the radically conservative social agenda that has fundamentally impacted urban planning policy and legislation in the United States. It has led to increased privatization, the erosion of public culture, and the polarization of the individual and the collective. Against this backdrop, Latin America has begun to chart a very different course, an alternative future: Latin American governments, from Brazil to Colombia, have produced a paradigm shift in matters of urban development, seeking - like no other place in the world - to reconnect public policy, social justice, and civic imagination.

What can we as cultural practitioners and concerned citizens learn from these developments? What methodologies and insights do these experiments in urban development and participatory politics offer? With these questions in mind, Slought convened three leading thinkers concerned with these issues -- architect Teddy Cruz, ecologist Oscar Romo and mathematician and former mayor of Medellin Sergio Fejardo -- at Don Felix Café along the San Ysidro/Tijuana border on June 3, 2011.

The conversation was organized parallel to "Political Equator 3," a Border-Drain-Crossing event that took place along the US-Mexico border, at a time of renewed investment in surveillance infrastructure and further marginalization of the communities adjacent to the border fence. The need to re-imagine borders is perhaps the foremost challenge for the future of the San Diego-Tijuana region, as well as for other geographies of borders, boundaries, and conflicts across the globe.

During "Political Equator 3," Slought also interviewed over 30 attendees - including architects, residents, border policemen, and others - and invited them to reflect on what the idea of a political equator means to them. The short positions featured here raise critical socio-political questions and offer insight into how a cultural practitioner or organization can engage the public in a larger dialogue. Slought is pleased to present these video reflections by participating designers, activists, and members of the public, which have been organized accordingly:

  • Acknowledging Contradictions
  • Developing Urban Pedagogies
  • Re-Imagining Boundaries
  • Restoring Cogency
  • Traversing Territories
  • Visualizing Collisions
read more

Here at Slought Foundation, these conversations and short interviews inform projects such as Mixplace, a collaborative exhibition and research initiative involving People's Emergency Center, Slought Foundation, and Estudio Teddy Cruz. In the coming months, Mixplace will transform this gallery space at Slought into a site of collaborative knowledge production as well as a site of civic engagement concerning the Mantua and Belmont neighborhoods of West Philadelphia.

The conversations featured in the installation are also available from Slought Foundation as a DVD publication. Please contact us if you are interested in extending the conversation by installing it in your home, community, or place of work.

In subsequent months, the conversations and interviews have been exhibited internationally, most recently as part of "Autonomous Infrastructure: Forms of Decay," a piece by Martha Rosler and Pelin Tan for the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2016: After Belonging.

The interviews were organized in the installation at Slought according to the following categories:

Acknowledging Contradictions
Developing Urban Pedagogies
Re-Imagining Boundaries
Restoring Cogency
Traversing Territories
Visualizing Collisions


Related publications
No results
No results

Architect Teddy Cruz, Governor Sergio Fajardo, and ecologist Oscar Romo discuss the paradigm shift in urban development, social justice, and civic imagination across Latin America.