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Photo: Julio Barrera

Folding Monument (Monument to the New Citizen or to the Cigarette), Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, 2023. Upcycled cotton canvas, thread, cotton webbing, photograph, shelf. Commissioned by the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at the University of El Paso, Texas.


This Folding Monument is a scale replica of a structure in the form of an upright cylinder. Located on the road to Anapra in Ciudad Juárez, the monument is visible from multiple viewpoints on the Mexican side of the border and from El Paso. Built in 1997 by the civil society organization “Progreso” and architect José Luis Rodríguez (who has on several occasions denied his involvement in the project) this was not originally planned to be a monument but, instead, a functional structure for water control. Its large scale, however, was an aesthetic decision, not a functional one. It was subsequently painted, anonymously, to look like a cigarette. 


Some members of the surrounding community consider this structure to be irrelevant and inappropriate. A few years ago, a group of UTEP employees offered support for its replacement because they were concerned about its “negative influence” on students. In 2016, the municipality had plans to replace it with “a work of greater artistic significance,” and, in 2017, a march took place to call for modifications to the structure’s appearance and to restore its name. None of these plans have yet materialized.

Text written in collaboration with Laura August

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Photo: Edgar Picazo

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