SVA Alumnus Peter Svarzbein's El Paso Transnational Trolley Project
November 15, 2016
From NationSwell: "Donald Trump’s call for a ‘big, beautiful wall’ along our southern border hasn't resonated in the West Texas city of El Paso. Already connected to Mexico by the world's largest border metroplex, local officials want to further link El Paso to its sister city, Ciudad Juarez. Last January, they started laying tracks for a streetcar line that, eventually, will shuttle passengers between the two countries, as it had once done for most of the 20thˇcentury.
Notably, and rather unusually, the El Paso streetcar initiative began as a public and performance art project. In 2011, black-and-white portraits of a smiling train conductor started popping up around town, sometimes accompanied by the phrase Sube al futuro: Go to the future. A few months later, a wheat-pasted mosaic on an abandoned brick building featured hundreds of locals' faces; together, the composite formed an ad for a retro streetcar, which resembled the Art Deco-ish trolley that ran 63 miles between El Paso and Juarez until 1974. At that point, conceptual artist Peter Svarsbein, an El Paso native, introduced himself as the creative mind behind the El Paso Transnational Trolley Project.
In the five years since, an even odder confluence of art and life took place. The fictional ad campaign took on a life of its own, becoming a multimillion-dollar construction project whose first 4.8-mile section is set to open in 2018..." (For the full story and more photos, click here)