Girl Coming Home to Suburb in Juarez from a Night Out in the City, from the series Suburbia Mexicana, 2009
Archival Inkjet print on photorag paper mounted on sintra, Dimensions Variable
In Suburbia Mexicana, Alejandro Cartagena (born 1977) photographs the homes, rivers, ruins, riches and inhabitants of the suburbs of Monterrey, Mexico. These beautifully quiet color photographs are stark documents of the chaos and destruction that result from scant or misguided urban planning: decentralized cities with limited infrastructures, where the pursuit of immediate financial gain trumps any interest in sustainability; the dried-up riverbeds that attest to water misallocation; perpetual rows of tiny houses slicing directly into the foothills of the surrounding picturesque mountains; and the people who live and survive in these small cities. Cartagena captures both the destruction that rapid urbanization imposes on the landscape and the experience of densely packed housing. His book Suburbia Mexicana communicates more than just a local problem, though: this is a visual portrait of neoliberal economic policies, and a clear plea for more responsible development in a rapidly changing world.