As news about the funding issue over president Donald Trump’s border wall project, became a controversial political issue in January 2019, an American filmmaker named Kylor Melton from Oregon and a Texan slackliner named Corbin Kunst, came together to develop a plan for creating artwork that would dramatically link the United States to Mexico by way of a slackline over and across the Rio Grande.
Slacklining is a sport that became popular during the 80s. It is different from the more widely known tightrope walking, which uses flat webbing instead of cable wire that allows the line to bounce. Kunst, who has been slacklining for years said he considers the activity a team sport, since one has to literally put his trust and his life at the hands of the rigging team. That is why he thought of slacklining as a truly powerful symbol for a visual art piece, since art for Kunst, is one of the greatest sources of inspiration from which people can draw motivation to remain resilient and resistan.
Filmmaker Melton convinced the Texan slackliner that the time was ripe for them to make Kunst’s dream of an art piece a reality. As debates and the partial government shutdown continued, the pair worked on their plan of action. It was important not only to have a slackliner to represent each country but also to have rigging teams working on lines for their country’s representative slackliner. The idea was to depict the need for connection and collaboration at a time when Trump persisted on the need to construct a border wall barrier.
The Making of the “The Imaginary Line”
The necessary permits were secured, and lawyers were consulted to ensure that everything was within legal boundaries.
The Mexican and U.S. teams of highline experts met somewhere at the Rio Grande river. They then paddled together until they reached Santa Elena Cavern, where both teams worked together in rigging a 300-ft long slackline, 500 feet in the air, connected to the 1,500-ft tall cliffs next to the cavern.
On the last day of the 35-day shutdown in January 25, 2019, Mexican slackliner Jamie Maruffo from the Mexican side, made the precarious crossing via the slackline above the Rio Grande. Corbin Kunst as the U.S. representative followed. Both men were tethered to the line for safety purposes.
Filmmaker Melton recalls the moment when the slackliner from Texas declared that for the first time in his years of engaging in the sport, slacklining held a meaning that went beyond himself.
Kylor Melton said
“I don’t know if there could be a more powerful symbol of connection between two lands and between two people
“The Imaginary Line” debuted at the 5Point Film Festival in Colorado. According to Melton, he was overwhelmed and at the same time humbled by the reactions and the way people connected to the simple idea of the film. The Oregon filmmaker hopes that as a piece of art, it will spark conversation and encouragement in the audiences to engage with these particular issues.