Tuesday arts pick: Photographer Alejandro Cartagena

Mexico’s growing middle class and the country’s  burgeoning urbanization has resulted in a building boom, with new housing developments and suburbs cropping up.

Fragmented Cities, Apodaca, 2006, Suburbia Mexicana Project
Alejandro Cartagna. Fragmented Cities, Apodaca, 2006. Suburbia Mexicana Project

Photographer Alejandro Cartagena has trained his lens on all the urban/suburban growth and the ways in which it has altered the landscape and affected the lives of people living in the changing cities.

Cartagena gives a lecture about his work Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Ransom Center. The event is free. www.hrc.utexas.edu

Cartagena’s series “Suburbia Mexicana Project” captures in neat geometric precision the rows of cookie-cutter identical houses lining newly-created streets — new suburban neighborhoods that push the boundaries of Northern Mexican cities such as Monterrey and Saltillo ever wider.

Alejandro Cartegena. Car Poolers 46
Alejandro Cartegena. Car Poolers 46

For his much acclaimed “Car Poolers” series Cartegena positioned himself on a pedestrian bridge over a highway in his hometown of Monterrey, capturing the legions of constructions day laborers, who pile in the back of pick-up trucks each morning as they travel to their job sites on the edges of the city.

At once voyeuristic and also intimate, though they’re captured in a fleeting second, Cartegena’s “Car Poolers” images read like carefully composed still lifes.

“Mexico is a tough place, and these guys are staying honest and legit; that’s something to admire,” Cartagena told an interviewer recently.

Cartegena says his photos offer a way to “reflect on how we’ve built our city and how in return it builds who we are and how we interact with it.”





Author: Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the arts critic for the Austin American-Statesman. She writes about visual art, theater, dance, music, performance, public art, architecture and just about any combination thereof.

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