Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nuevo Laredo Carpooling

Thanks to my favorite librarian and fellow Latin Americanist for sharing this wonderful collection of photographs from suburban Nuevo Laredo, which is a bit upstream and across the river from our old South Texas home. Photographer Alejandro Cartagena found a location from which to invade the private space of workers who are building suburbia in nearby Monterrey.

I recommend viewing the slideshow first and then reading Matt McCann's thoughtful commentary about what the photographs reveal about work, place, camaraderie, and even masculinity. The online comments are also interesting, as the reactions of readers vary quite a bit. They include some ribbing of  McCann for being too citified to know the difference between a flatbed and a pickup.

As McCann points out, the stillness of the men in these incredibly candid photographs reveals a determination to make an ordinary living in a place that in many ways has become extraordinarily chaotic. Though it is intimate to the point of invasive, Cartagena's vision is one that honors his subjects, who are honorable men living in dishonorable times.

Those not familiar with the region might want to spend some time browsing the map below. Communities along the Rio-Not-So-Grande are much more intricately connected than many folks from farther north realize. Notice, too, the tremendous difference in the amount of water used for household plants on either side of the border.

I think the photographer must have used a bridge along Route 85, the direct route to Monterrey.

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