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The project took place in the Colonia of Camino Verde in Tijuana Mexico.

For this project I have collaborated with Jocelyn Jaime Mejia to organize a Canal Clean Up.

This is her video documentation of the event.

I am also infinitely grateful to Marisol and Apolonio Rodriguez for their great contribution.

This is their video work

It has been a humbling experience. Jocelyn, Marisol, Don Polo and all the rest of the community precious input  have helped me out in this project. THANK YOU ALL CAMINO VERDE.

Camino Verde’s Canal-Clean-Up



Like the rest of the world, Camino Verde too is facing the problem of how rubbish is contaminating its environment and the negative repercussions this is causing to the life of the local community.

Only part of a greater globalized scheme, the pollution of Camino Verde’s canal has roots in western life-style. Economic and political power-forces lead progress towards a commodified world. Just like western lifestyles, Camino Verde’s canal too is trapped into a structure that prioritizes dehumanizing values rather than caring progressive ones. The neglect of the environment is just one of many imminent symptoms of social injustice that the future of Camino Verde is facing.

How do we dispose of the leftovers of a global society that thrives on consumerism? This shared struggle seems to be better concealed in some places than others in the attempt to make the problem invisible at people’s expenses.

Camino Verde’s Canal-Clean-Up is a crossing that meets at a cultural and human exchange of shared values. It is a joint effort of care and a symbolic act that aims at spreading civic awareness on the importance of local environmental social justice.

To me, the rubbish polluting Camino Verde’s canal is an imported “alien” that is invading the spirit of most of our communities and eventually flows into the mainstream of our precious ecosystem of nature, cultures and human values.

We, people of different beliefs, ideas, backgrounds, and cultures, will meet at the Desarrollo Community Center and start walking up the canal to La Casa De Las Ideas. These two main community landmarks of Camino Verde will provide us with our reference points.

The Canal-Clean-Up is for me a humbling powerful act. To walk and to clean together with our humble tools: gloves and bags. We will be collecting the small plastic rubbish that we’ll encounter on our journey inside the canal.

Our gathering and collection will be celebrated into a final artwork that we will assemble together, again in a simple way.

Our bags filled with plastic rubbish will be piled up on the Desarrollo Community Center’s courtyard and tied with rope to form a temporary sculpture.

The scope of the artwork is to create an image that manifests a visible message hoping to reach out to include the rest of the community of Camino Verde and furthermore echo out of their neighbourhood across the world’s neighbours.

This temporary artwork is intended as a creative celebration of the clean up and invites to reflection and discussion on how we can affect each other communities. I like to think of it as a question mark: an aesthetic sign that marks the end of a question.

All along, the Canal-Clean-up participants are invited to document each other via two disposable cameras that this time will be kept and looked after.

Another important parallel outcome to this project will be the video documentation of the Canal-Clean-Up event by Jocelyn Jaime Mejia. Together with the participants’ photos and the disposable cameras, Jocelyn’s film will be featured in an exposition at the 18th Street Art gallery in Santa Monica, USA. Bits of the canal’s rubbish collection – now deported to their native place of origin – will also be part of the show.

EDITED AND POLISHED                                                                                                                                        on the other side of the line                                                        

The title of this installation: Edited and Polished refers to the prevailing agenda of institutions to omit “reality” but embellish facts in an insincere manipulative manner that ultimately is exploitative and not always to the advantage to the social public but rather to the detriment of the greater. The terms Edited and Polished also lend themselves as ironic pointers towards our impact on the environment and to the rubbish we produce.

I often wonder how the exportation of our western lifestyle can be of any benefit to any non-Euro-American societies. It seems to me that in most cases the freight of democracy dead-ends into the politics of imperialism.

Where from and Where to? These are the next questions that I started to raise during this project in Camino Verde. A practical concern, where the rubbish collected in the canal would end up, turned into a metaphorical existential instance that is comparable to the journey of our waste.

While my overall desire is connect and reach out to people, as an artist, I am very concerned and aware of my ethical stands. Does the pretext of art permit free entering/exiting into any terrain? Are artists the new missionaries or is art the new artists’ “green card”? Can art fill in the fallacies of our western society? Are we empowering people by taking away their right and role of social “converters” by making them dependent from other systems and stripping them off their creative and time management autonomy?

I was able to only partly resolve my involvement into this assigned project by shifting the lens back at our western society: a society desperately in need of help.

It is my belief that by healing our western-society we can stop damaging the world’s natural and social environment. This brings me to my next question: How does western “throw-away” culture affect Camino Verde’s environment?

My project bounced off the words of Alma Teresa Lopez. Alma is an inspirational community leader and a proud single mother actively fighting for the betterment of the community and the future of her children.

In the video work of young Jocelyn I’d like to see the expression of Camino Verde’s future.

It is only with the help of Jocelyn, and the inspirational community leaders, Lupita and Don Polo, that I was able to organize the Canal Clean Up. This was not the first clean up they experienced, I did not introduce anything new to their life, on the contrary it was rather the Community of Camino Verde that humbled me with their graceful and enthusiastic help.

Despite the fact that our individual final aims or needs might differ, we were joined by the same humanitarian effort to create awareness about environmental issues of social justice that burden the future well-being of local communities.

In addition I’d like to add that the latter is affected by the relentless course of politics and economics of western consumerist life-style.

Will the process of commodification lead to a global dehumanization of life and culture? I often wonder about that.

Basura (trash) is the second major problem afflicting the community of Camino Verde. It is second to the rising number of single mothers and to gang crime. How are these troublesome issues linked to one another and to the rest of us?

Edited and Polished aims at portraying the messy tight squeeze left between people’s freedom and global social responsibility. During this project theories have often conflicted with feelings. Academia and professionalisation often invaded the true nature of art. Emotions and rules have been trespassing into one another’s realms. In the end is it the need to understand the intrinsic essence of humanity that pushes us through these cluttered corridors: cracks left open by the desire of control or just clogged veins waiting to free themselves from pollution?

Too busy and uninviting, some venture through these passages only to get trapped, others make it all the way to Camino Verde, where in the words of Hector Garcia Esqueda: “there is freedom here”.

About Claudia Borgna

Claudia Borgna artist

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