Stuck in Juarez: Time warp (siempre es lo mismo)

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: April 25-May2, 2008

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Stuck in Juarez, colonia Avicola-1989

The Silva family came to Juarez with the intention of crossing the border, into the U.S. and then traveling to the Midwest, where a family member had preceded them. They intended to work in agriculture in the wheat fields of Kansas. A dream. The American dream. It wasn’t to be their dream.

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Happy Halloween

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: March 7-14, 2008

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Woman in Juarez Maquila plant / Juarez, Chihuahua

Banks lend money to Americans to buy homes they can’t afford. The homeowners live in a dream bubble, the American Dream bubble. The lenders sell their paper and ride off into their millionaire dream. Everyone’s dreaming.

In Juarez they’re dreaming too.

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Leap #7

PHOTO OF THE LEAP: Feb. 29-March 7, 2008

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Leaping into the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, El Paso-Juarez

Leap into the river with two names

Leap Day in the Leap Year 2008. Let’s all take a leap. Come on…why not!

This boy and his friends use the river with two names as a playground, a swimming pool, a back yard.

Why not.

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Two Girls en la Colonia

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Feb. 22-March 1, 2008

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Two girls getting ready for school in Colonia Avicola, Juarez-2007

It’s the little moments that work for me.

It’s an exquisite privilege to disappear. It doesn’t always happen. It’s really great -for the photographer- when it does. Photography out in the open, in other people’s realities, nobody even noticing.

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Jesus With Trophy

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Feb. 15-22, 2008

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Jesus at the bridge, Feb 11, 2008-El Paso

Prounouns

Working on my series, “Lives Separated.”

Jesus come over the bridge from Juarez with this giant trophy.

“It’s the trophy we got for playing Juarez, we played Juarez football (soccer),” he says not saying who “we,” or,”they,” are.

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Play: Before The Fence

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Feb. 1-Feb. 8, 2008

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Before the fence, Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, El Paso-Juarez – 1989

Notes from my Journal

Immigration. Swim, drive, and crawl. People do what they need to do and making them do any of the aforementioned things, put lives at risk.

The river is more than a highway of migration, though.

In the summers, when it’s hot, the river is a giant pool.

People play.

The river is polluted with chemicals from upstream pesticides from the farms, loaded with garbage and debris, has really tricky currents that, every summer, takes lives.

But people live in that river. That river is life for many in Juarez.

If the Jefes could see past their own little tight plans, this would be THE development that would be right for El Paso/Juarez: Play in the river.

Too simple, though, huh?

This girl is clinging to the El Paso side bank. ILLEGAL! La Migra comes and chases her away and she joyously splashes back to the Juarez side where her friends and family jeer and gesture at the Border patrolman. Everyone is having a good time. The Migra laughs, waves, knows he’s part of this great immigration farce, climbs back into his Suburban and drives off and the girl –and her friends- come back, swim to the U.S. side, pose for pictures, live the evening.

The sun sets. I go home. I played in the river, too.

One of the border Patrol’s favorite PR releases is about how their agents saved people from drowning. There’s one or two or three every year.

They never mention people caught playing. Before the fence.

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Roberta’s Glued Head

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Jan. 25-Feb. 1, 2008

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Roberta’s glued head (Head #14), Las Cruces, NM, Jan. 18, 2008

You can leave the border but the border does not leave you. My head snapped when I saw Roberta Flores, up in New Mexico.

“Terrific hair,” I yelled at her. “Gelled,” I asked?

“No,” she said with a sly and proud smile, “Glued,” she shouted back, with a grin that sort of said, “gotcha!”

“Did you get that done around here? ” I asked.

“They don’t know how to do that around here,” she spat, friendly but gently ridiculing.

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Bull Boy

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Jan. 11-18, 2008

Bull boy, Juarez - 2002

Retratos de la Corrida, Bull boy, Juarez – 2002

I’m a little weary of border politics, for now.

I return to the streets and hope the disorder of life gives me shape and form.

Politics and News seem to work on a linear arc.

Facts. Information. Plenty to tell. Endless detail and weight and nuance. Narrative is interesting but one of the things I’ve always liked about doing photography is the occasional punch in the gut you get from just being somewhere (often where you shouldn’t be).

Photography can work as a fact machine, but when it doesn’t and it’s just image, impression, reaction, light, when there is more than the sum of the parts, I like it the most.

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Los Cartoneros

PHOTO(s) OF THE WEEK: Dec. 28, 2007-Jan. 4, 2008

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Cartonero Armando Hernandez Lamas, El Paso – 12/28/2007

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Cartonero Alejandro Gonzalez, El Paso – 12/28/2007

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Cartonero Hernandez in central El Paso

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Cartonero Gonzalez, central El Paso

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Armando Hernandez’ handmade tricicleta

Los Cartoneros

In a desert, on the border, nothing much gets wasted.

Cartoneros, paper haulers, collect discarded and surplus paper and card board from border streets and from border merchants and haul it on their customized ” tricicletas.” They then sell it to scrap buyers, located about a mile from the border shopping district in the Segundo barrio.

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Cameraphone session, 5:15pm, December 20, 2007 / Centro El Paso

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Dec. 21-28, 2007

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Cameraphone session, 5:15pm, December 20, 2007 / Centro El Paso

El Paso’s El Centro, the downtown, is packed with people at Christmastime. Unlike most cities of the southwest and of the rest of the United States, El Paso’s downtown is alive and bustling at all times of year, but especially during this season.

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Waiting in Juarez, 2007

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Dec. 7-Dec. 14, 2007

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Waiting in Juarez, 2007

Waiting.

It’s hard to remember the last time I was waiting for something and not pressured to be thinking about the next stop, the next appointment.

Leisure?

Barely remember that…

Slow time? Time seems to be on steroids, going faster and faster.

So I came across this guy and time seemed stopped. He was waiting for the grieving and the return of the dead to his vehicle.

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Tattoo, Juarez – 2007

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Nov. 30-Dec. 7, 2007

Tattoo, Juarez – 2007

Flying tattoo on the window. That’s what I was after. Beautiful.

What I got was the Universal Salute?

Priceless.

He didn’t like me? No, I don’t get that. I do struggle with why I shoot on the streets. What right do I have, who appointed me? There’s some kind of thing I got into my head about documenting and witnessing and leaving the artifact that has driven me for a long time. So I do.

I like the fact that the tattoo-ero sends something back. He’s got a right. We all do what we’ve got do.

So, I get my tattoo in Juarez.

It’s not always peace and love out there.

So be it. ‘Ta bien.

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Border Mass

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: November 3-9, 2007

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All Soul’s Day Mass at the border,

Sunland Park, NM/Anapra, Chihuahua

November 2, 2007

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All Soul’s Day, Border Mass, NM/Chihuahua border

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Nuns on both sides of border fence

Sunland Park, New Mexico/Anapra, Mexico

Today the Bishops of El Paso, Las Cruces, NM and Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico met at the border fence at Sunland Park, NM and Anapra, Chihuahua to protest current immigration policies and to promote understanding for immigrants from Mexico, as well as world wide.

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