In her series Boundaries//Facades, photographer Charlotte Patterson uses images of fences and walls to explore the concept of borders, both real and imagined. Ripped-open chain link, bent fence posts, and patched-up holes contrast with colorful walls and bright blue skies form a photography series that explores the gap between perception and reality.
“This body of work developed in the winter of this year while driving through Baja California Sur, Mexico,” Patterson explains. “The notion of fences is in relation to ideas of internal barriers and the implied ideas of safety that that entails.”
By focusing her lens on close-up details of the fences and walls in her images, Patterson makes it unclear which side of these barriers she’s on. The viewer can’t be sure if the fences in Patterson’s images are keeping the outside world at bay, or if the photographer is trapped behind them. The cheerful colors and sense of flimsy impermanence that characterize Patterson’s images challenge the possibility that these fences could create any actual security.
Ultimately, these walls and fences feel more like facades than actual boundaries; Patterson’s title for this series collapses the difference between these two concepts, pointing out the way a fence is often little more than a sign. In its sense of surreality, Patterson’s work calls to mind infamous border walls in recent history.
Perhaps more pertinent to Patterson’s work, given that it was created in Mexico by an American photographer, is, of course, President Trump’s proposal to build a border wall between Mexico and the USA. Opponents have pointed out many issues with this plan, from the obvious exorbitant cost to questions of efficacy. Besides, as Patterson’s Boundaries//Facades suggests, most barriers are not really permanent. Walls can be scaled, fences can be ripped open, borders can always be breached.