The Image: Alejandro Cartagena, "Untitled Lost River #10"
This image was taken in 2007 or '08 and it is outside the city of Garcia. It was a Sunday drive with my wife in search of dried up streams and rivers around the nine cities of the Metropolitan area of Monterrey, Mexico. The image is part of a five-series project called Suburbia Mexicana I produced from late 2005 to 2009. This image is part of the "Lost Rivers" section of the project that became a crucial eye opener in the development of my work. In Suburbia Mexicana I was exploring the possibilities of representing landscape and urban development in early XXI century Mexico. But more than just producing images of the actual issue of urban growth, which is the first part of the work ("Fragmented Cities"), I was pursuing an interrelationship between the actual sprawl and its causes and effects. That is environmental issues, effects of suburbia on city centers, comparatives between other urban models and the possible struggles of the inhabitants of these new cities.
With "Lost Rivers" I felt I was actually tackling a more complex visualization of suburbanization and creating a dialogue with past images that dealt with the same subject. I was very excited to think of my images as a portrail of "answers" to questions posed by photographers like Lewis Baltz, Robert Adams and Joe Deal as to what was going to happen with so much development of the suburbs. Here in these images I was representing urban development; you can't see it, but it was making these rivers and streams dry out. I was thinking of photography as something that can make visible the officially invisible. A tool to comment on our urban and suburban well-being that still connects with the history of landscape photography. This image is one of my favorites from that series as it encompasses both the documentary and aesthetic qualities that I was pushing for in this project. It was shot with a Mamiya RB67 and digitally scanned and processed.
- Alejandro Cartagena