September 7, 2012
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Well here it is, 8 months of work in 40 photos and a 300 word intro, it just seems incredible… if there’s anyone out there, your constructive thoughts are very welcome! :::
Me Estoy Asiendo el Bien Fuerte started in the context of the Mexican drug violence, which in 2011 reached unprecedented levels in the wealthy north-eastern city of Monterrey. However, my aim was never to concentrate on the violence directly. I felt there were already too many images of bloodied bodies, which seemed to endlessly represent only nameless corpses with no identity. Instead the work is an attempt to reflect on the social and economic circumstances that many of the victims and perpetrators of the violence come from: 90% of those dead were male, 40% were aged between 15-29, and almost all were working class. Mexico is registered as having a large youth population, as well as a high level of social inequality. A significant number of young people struggle with the destructive nature of poverty, while living beside others with incredible wealth and opportunities.
The title of the project translates as ‘I’m being so strong’, and the words were taken from a letter written by Samuel to his innocent brother, after he was murdered by one of Monterrey’s warring cartels. The phrase seemed so fitting for these young men, who as well as their economic difficulties, are growing up with the pressures of a strong patriarchal society, where gang membership is the norm, where shows of masculinity often lead to forms of violence, and where their model of manhood is in danger of becoming so destructive. These photos are an introduction to this reality, a reality where many young men are so vulnerable to the social and financial weight of the criminal groups. Over the first 6 months of 2012 individuals from two street gangs, Los Pokos Lokos and Los Químikos, slowly introduced me to their lives, allowed me to photograph their world, and shared their experiences of becoming adults during these years of high insecurity in the working class neighbourhoods of Monterrey.