Border-Ball movie premiere and show at ArtCenter

I’m excited to announce that the Border-Ball movie—which chronicles my recent pilgrimage along the U.S. – Mexico border and shares stories of people I met along the way—premieres October 17-18.

Please join me for the movie screenings anytime this coming weekend on the ArtCenter website. The screenings are part of a multi-phase exhibition of Border-Ball at ArtCenter: first virtually, October 17, 2020 – January 16, 2021, on the ArtCenter website; and then physically, in Autumn 2021, as a 9-channel video installation at ArtCenter DTLA.

I invite you to participate further by:
Sharing your stories about immigration
Learning more about how we’re treating immigrants
And by helping out in whatever ways you can.

More info below.

ArtCenter College of Design
ArtCenter Exhibitions

Border-Ball: A 40-day pilgrimage along the U.S. and Mexico Border

Exhibition explores immigration, compassion and hope 

Online Exhibition Dates:
10/17/20 – 1/16/2020

On-site Exhibition to follow in Fall 2021.

(Pasadena, Calif.) Sept. 25, 2020 – ArtCenter DTLA launches the online premiere of Border-Ball, the first phase of the culminating exhibition of a 40-day pilgrimage (October 29 – December 7, 2019) along the U.S. and Mexico border by artist Joel Tauber.

Border-Ball explores the meaning of the wall and how it impacts the human race psychologically, ethically and spiritually. Through the shared cultural experience of baseball that extends beyond boundaries, Tauber asks probing questions about immigration, compassion, imprisonment and more.

Tauber began his pilgrimage at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California, and walked along the Border Wall before heading north two and a half miles to the Otay Mesa Detention Center. He travelled there and back again daily—a seven-mile journey that connects legal entry to the U.S. with the Border Wall and the Detention Center holding those who might be in the country without legal permits. While walking, he declares, in English as well as some Spanish, an adaptation of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame:”

Walk with me along the border. Play catch with me in front of the wall. I don’t care what part of the world you’re from. Let’s root, root, root for teamwork. If we don’t find some, it’s a shame. For it’s one, two, three strikes, we’re out at the old ball game.

He also proclaims, as an adaptation of “The Star-Spangled Banner:”

Oh, say, can you see, our country’s gorgeous dream: an endless field of green, where everyone can live and play? Our star-spangled banner yet waves, over the land of immigrants and the home of us all!

Tauber wore a custom vintage baseball uniform and backpack in blue, white and red. Tossing a baseball as he walked along, the artist invited people who walked along with him to play catch.

The exhibition will be presented in two phases. The online exhibition presents the trailer of the 20-minute documentary of the project with information and still-images of Tauber’s journey. The first phase will also feature an artist talk (Oct. 23) and a limited premiere of the Border-Ball documentary (Oct. 17 and 18). With the central component of the exhibition highlighting the personal stories of immigration, the online exhibition will feature an ongoing interactive link for visitors to the site to share their own stories on immigration.

The second phase of the exhibition will be the on-site installation of the Border-Ball project in Fall 2021 featuring a video series of interviews of people Tauber met while on his border walk. A collection of personal reflections and stories related to border and baseball, the interviews reflect the complexity of our relationships across demarcated boundaries. Presented as an installation project, Border-Ball will also comprise of photos and documentation of the 40-day pilgrimage along with an interactive piece where visitors are invited to play catch and add their own stories about baseball and the border.

Border-Ball was developed in part through Tauber’s interpretation of Tikkun Olam, a Kabbalistic mandate to do what we can to save the world. By framing his performance and documentation along the border as a pilgrimage, the artist raises the performative gesture to a meditative action of care and opens up the opportunity to share in conversation about the border rather than limit it to polemics.

Tauber was born in 1972 in Boston, Massachusetts, and comes from a long line of rabbis. His work focuses on generating conversation and facilitating change. Most recently, Tauber’s “The Sharing Project” movie was named Best International Documentary Film by the Vintage International Film Festival (Kolhapur, India) and Best International Documentary Short by the Lake City International Film Festival (Noida, India). He lives and works in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he is associate professor of art at Wake Forest University.

ArtCenter DTLA
114 W. 4th Street
Los Angeles, Calif. 90013

Exhibition hours:
Please note: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, exhibitions in ArtCenter’s galleries may not be available for visits by the public. Please check with the gallery before visiting. Email

Parking is available at 415 S. Main Street (left side of Main St.; entrance between Kazunori and Big Man Bakes.) Rates are $5 for the first 90 minutes. $10 maximum. A kiosk located near the garage entrance accepts both cash and card. ArtCenter DTLA does not offer validation. From the parking garage, walk down Main St. and turn left on 4th. ArtCenter DTLA is on the left side of 4thSt.

ArtCenter DTLA is accessible by public transportation. The Pershing Square Subway Station is three blocks away. Metro 92, 33, 68, 733, and DASH Downtown D on Main Street and Metro 28, 40, 45, 83, and 745 on Spring Street all stop within a block of ArtCenter DTLA. Visit Metro for bus and subway maps or call 323 466-3876.

Plan your trip using LADOT or Metro bike maps. Refer to Metro Bike Share Map for kiosk near you. Free bike parking is located in the parking garage at 415 S. Main St.

About ArtCenter DTLA:  As a satellite of the College, ArtCenter DTLA provides a platform for dialogue and engagement, intersecting the campus with the Los Angeles community. As an extension of the Exhibition department’s mission, ArtCenter DTLA’s programming will focus on events and exhibitions that are critically engaging from a transdisciplinary perspective. Drawing on the resources of the College and the Los Angeles art community to collaboratively build and contribute to a culture that is diverse, innovative and relevant.

About ArtCenter Exhibitions
ArtCenter Exhibitions includes the Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery at its north campus in Pasadena, the Peter and Merle Mullin Gallery, the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography Gallery and the Hutto-Patterson Exhibition Hall at its south campus in Pasadena, and ArtCenter DTLA Gallery in downtown Los Angeles. These curated spaces embody ArtCenter’s institutional will to understand artistic thinking and design strategies as levers in promoting social advancement, the pursuit of humanitarian innovation and use of critical inquiry to clarify objectives and truths. Using the lens of contemporary art and design, the mission of ArtCenter Exhibitions is to ignite emotional resonance, provoke intellectual dissonance and conjure unexpected pathways of thinking.

About ArtCenter: Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines as well as visual and applied arts. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.

Teri Bond
Media Relations Director
ArtCenter College of Design
626 396-2385

Stories about Border-Ball in Fresh Ink For Teens and The Old Gold And Black

Many thanks to Rena Max for her wonderful story about Border-Ball, Sick-Amour, and doing what we can to improve the world. The story, “Tikkun Olam: Improving The World Through Creativity. An interview with Joel Tauber inspires change”, went live on March 4 in Fresh Ink For Teens and can be read here.

Many thanks to Will May as well for his excellent story about Border-Ball. The story, “Deacon Profile: Joel Tauber”, was published on December 7 (2019) in the Old Gold And Black: Wake Forest Student Paper and can be read here.

The Otay Mesa Detention Center

The Otay Mesa Detention Center troubles me. I walk there everyday from the Otay Mesa Port of Entry as part of my 40-day pilgrimage. Guards slowly circle the Detention Center in vans. They stare at me. I meet their gaze. They tell me that I have to remain on the sidewalk. The large private prison company that owns and operates the Detention Center, CoreCivic, maintains the dirt pathway that surrounds it. I cannot film, or even stand, on this pathway—or on the very large parking lot where the multitude of Detention Center employees park their cars.

I stand on the sidewalk and bear witness. I toss a ball, repetitively and meditatively, contemplating the expanse of concrete “pods” holding the detainees. Three layers of barbed wire and electric fencing separate me from the people locked inside. I cannot see them. I cannot talk with them or play catch with them. I cannot offer food or other forms of direct aid.

I try to imagine what it must be like for the detainees—especially those who are forced to remain in the Detention Center for years on end. Refugees. Dreamers. Most have no criminal records whatsoever. Treated like prisoners. In jumpsuits. Living in concrete cages. Breathing in terrible air from the power plant across the street. Suffering, according to multiple reports, from physical and sexual abuse. Medical neglect. Contaminated and insufficient food. Forced labor.

I toss the ball and I think about how my paternal grandparents survived the Holocaust. How my grandfather’s brother died in a slave labor camp. How I am a descendant of immigrants who came to this country because they believed, like I do, that it is a welcoming place that values people from all ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs. A compassionate country that finds homes for refugees, that cares for those that need help.

I’m still shocked by the march in Charlottesville, so close to where I live with my wife and two young boys. Klansmen without hoods, shouting openly about killing Jews and African Americans. I’m frightened by the rise of racist rhetoric and the rise of hate crimes. And I’m terrified by white nationalism.

But, I have hope nonetheless. I continue to believe in our country. I’m confident that we will rediscover our values. So, I toss a ball and declare:

Walk with me along the border. Play catch with me in front of the wall. I don’t care what part of the world you’re from. Let’s root, root, root for teamwork. If we don’t find some, it’s a shame. For it’s one, two, three strikes, we’re out at the old ball game.

On Thanksgiving, a guard stops his van and tells me that he sees me everyday. We discuss the Detention Center, the Border, the Wall. The value of compassion. A friend who has walked with me that day adds his thoughts. Then the guard asks: “we need this place, right?” I thank him for asking such an important question. He thanks me. Then the guard resumes circling the Detention Center in his van. And I start walking back to the Port of Entry with my friend, as the conversation circles over and over again in my mind.

The Border Wall

I’m continually confronted by the Border Wall. I walk alongside it everyday, while making my 40-Day Pilgrimage from the Otay Mesa Port of Entry to the Otay Mesa Detention Center, and then back again.

The Wall seems most imposing to me from the easternmost point of my 7 mile route before I head north towards the Detention Center. The towering metal barricade marches seemingly forever east, past the horizon line. I stare at the Wall, but I cannot touch it. I face it behind a second shorter metal fence and a restricted buffer zone of highly patrolled land.

I stand at this spot, tossing a ball and thinking about the Wall. I interview people about the border and about baseball, and I toss a ball with them. I talk to Border Patrol agents nearby. Then, I toss a ball to myself some more.

And I wonder. What does the Wall do to us? Psychologically? Ethically? Spiritually? What happens when we emphasize, so clearly, the boundaries between us? When we heighten them with steel, rebar, and concrete? Does The Wall make it harder to recognize that we’re all connected to each other? That we’re all on the same team?

I continue to toss a ball, over and over again. As a ritual. As a meditation. As a prayer. I think about our teammates who are suffering. The hungry. The homeless. The refugees who we turn away. And all those we lock up in detention centers.

Then, I declare:

Walk with me along the border. Play catch with me in front of the wall. I don’t care what part of the world you’re from. Let’s root, root, root for teamwork. If we don’t find some, it’s a shame. For it’s one, two, three strikes, we’re out at the old ball game.

Story about Border-Ball: The Otay Mesa Port of Entry in The Kite

I love what Rosanna Albertini wrote about Border-Ball and the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in her blog, The Kite: about thinking as the art of desire, and art as the desire of thinking fresh. Inclusivity. How liberty is a better guiding principle than freedom. And how art is the servant of need.

Read Rosanna’s post, “Border Ball: THE OTAY MESA PORT OF ENTRY”, here.

The Otay Mesa Port Of Entry

I’m getting ready for the 17th day of Border-Ball: a 40-day pilgrimage along the U.S. – Mexico border. I start each day at noon at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California. It’s wonderful to see so many people cross the border, even in the middle of the day – both into the U.S. and into Mexico. There are distinct pathways for trucks, cars, and pedestrians; and each of these pathways are always busy.

I find the fluidity of movement at the port to be extremely beautiful. The constant flow of people from so many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds reminds me that the United States is a place of immigrants and diversity. And, so, I’m often moved to declare:

Oh, say, can you see, our country’s gorgeous dream: an endless field of green, where everyone can live and play? Our star-spangled banner yet waves, over the land of immigrants and the home of us all!

I spend most of my time at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry on the pedestrian bridge, tossing a ball. I introduce myself to people I meet and ask them to share their stories, experiences and thoughts about the border and baseball. Then, we play catch.

The borders between us disappear when I’m listening to their stories. And our connections deepen when we play catch. It’s amazing to me how, even after sharing incredibly sad and heartbreaking stories, people start smiling and laughing once we play catch. All of a sudden, we are friends, playing and laughing together.

We are all on the same team, after all.

People thank me. And, I thank them for connecting with me and for giving me strength to continue my long 7 mile journey each day: from the Port of Entry, along the Wall, and up to the Detention Center — and then back again.

Story about Border-Ball airs on NBC 7 San Diego

Many thanks to Joe Little for the wonderful story about Border-Ball! It was a joy talking with Joe and playing catch with him, and it was fantastic to see the story air on NBC 7 San Diego on Thursday (November 7, 2019) at 4:30 pm and 6 pm.

You can watch the story, “We’re All in This Together: Playing a Game of Catch Along US – Mexico Border”, now – and read a written version of it too – on the NBC 7 San Diego website, the NBC 4 Los Angeles website, and the NBC Bay Area website.

Participate in Border-Ball

I’m getting ready to start the 10th day of Border-Ball: a 40-day pilgrimage along the U.S. – Mexico border; and I would love it if you would accompany me on my journey.

I’ve had many amazing conversations with the people that I’ve met so far on my pilgrimage, and I look forward to many more. Many thanks to all those who have walked with me already, and many thanks to everyone who is planning to join me in the future!

I start, each day, at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California, and walk along the border wall before heading north two and a half miles to the Otay Mesa Detention Center. I’m traveling there and back again each day – a seven mile journey that connects legal entry to the U.S. with the border wall and the detention center holding those who might be in the country without all legal permits.

You are welcome to walk with me for as much as you like: for a little bit, or for as much as the full 7 miles.

Here’s a map of the Border-Ball route:

In addition to participating in Border-Ball by walking with me; you can also participate by playing catch and by sharing your stories about baseball and the border.

Here’s the walking and interviewing schedule, as well as some logistical information about food and water.

Stories about Border-Ball in the Winston-Salem Journal and The Kite

Many thanks to John Hinton for the story about Border-Ball: a 40-day pilgrimage along the U.S. – Mexico border in the Winston-Salem Journal. The story, “WFU artist to ‘play ball’ on U.S. border”, came out on November 2, as part of the Journal’s Higher Education Notebook, and can be read here.

Many thanks as well to Rosanna Albertini for her post about Border-Ball in her blog, The Kite: about thinking as the art of desire, and art as the desire of thinking fresh. Check out the post, “Border Ball : THE ROUTE e auguri di buon viaggio” here. And stay tuned for future posts about Border-Ball in The Kite as well.