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Day of the “DF” Dead exhibit celebrates new generation of photographers from Mexico City outskirts

By Mark Powell

Mexico City looms large and is an expansive horizon for any photographer. The city’s past subject matter is often seen in classic and traditional Mexican street photographers like Hector Garcia, Nacho Lopez, Enrique Mertinides and Francisco Mata. These photographers laid ground, worked hard in the city as it existed in the 1970s, ‘80s and early ‘90s. Yet today, there are entire parts of the city that are not represented by imagery or have very little picture data, mostly in the relatively new outskirts, or “outcast” places like Nezahualcoytl, Iztapalapa, Chalco and Chimalhuacan. Besides the Semana Santa celebration in Iztapalapa, the most populous borough in Mexico City (with over four million inhabitants) there really is no rooted tradition of photography to be found in these parts of the city.

Day of the “DF” Dead exhibit
Joint celebration event with Pro Musica
Photo exhibit, cocktail, Pan de Muertos and altar
Thu, Nov 1, 7pm
Art Print Photo Gallery
Correo 46
Tel 152 1575

Day of the “DF” Dead shows a glimpse of the next generation of photographers. It includes Jair Cabrera Torres, Fermín Guzmán, Alfredo Moreno, Nayeli Cruz, and Irving Cabrera Torres, all young photographers who both live and work in these neighborhoods. These parts of the city have seen extreme growth in the past two decades with an endless flow of new immigrants from other parts of Mexico and from the constant stream of returning workers from the United States. In many ways, these places have the potential to depict a clearer illustration of what it means to be a citizen from the current Metropolis of Mexico City.

Irving Cabrera, one of the photographers in this collective exhibition and a citizen of these sprawling neighborhoods writes: “I like to speak with images; to express myself through photography is the way I have enjoyed living the last seven years. The neighborhood where I live gave me the best education for walking the streets without any fear, to face anything anywhere. On these streets the friends of the neighborhood and I graduated to fight for the rest of our lives”

Nayeli Cruz, another young photographer and local explains: “I am the daughter of a transport driver, more commonly known as a microbusero (microbus driver), and a secretary who wanted to be a dentist. They make me incredibly proud.

I studied for a bachelor’s degree in psychology and for this reason I have a strong interest in human thought, but a camera has been my best tool for feeling and understanding much more about people.”

It becomes appropriate that these photographers are being introduced through a common theme of the Day of the Dead celebration. There is a tremendous schizophrenic nature arising through insecurity and violence that are prevalent and parallel to the evolution of urban growth. The Day of the Dead holiday is able to become a metaphor for the meaning of change and how all things don’t necessarily represent what they seem to.

The daily “costume” of society within a city becomes alive, hungry and doesn’t want to stay still for one second. All things pass, all things move, all things change into a greater reality, not unlike the energy, passion, inspiration and hard work of the photographers represented in this exhibit.

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