Marfa, the art-world outpost in West Texas, is known for outdoor installations like its roadside attraction-style Prada Store. But soon, it may be joined by an otherworldly vision if a proposal by architect and designer Marc Thorpe gains traction. The project, titled citizens of earth, is a huge sculpture in the shape of a flying saucer located on a site some 20 miles outside of town, near the U.S. border with Mexico. The silvery disc will be mounted on a post, making it appear as if it were hovering over a landing site. At night, its underside would be illuminated by a continuous circle of lights, enhancing the extraterrestrial effect.
The piece's proximity to Mexico is meant to address the immigration crisis, which has only been exacerbated by the spread of the coronavirus. The installation deals with the rationale behind national boundaries, seemingly asking: what would it take for mankind to shift from me to we?
Thorpe was inspired by Ronald Reagan, who, in an address to the United Nations, said: “I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside of this world.”
Ironically, the world is now facing such a planet-wide existential threat given the rapid spread of Covid-19, leaving national borders more tightly sealed than ever. Thankfully, international cooperation remains centerstage as countries work together to create a vaccine, while people are moving online to share their experiences all over the globe. Thorpe's work may yet become an Unidentified Flying Object-lesson in the need for humanity to band together.