The Picture Show
Tue March 13, 2012
Car Pool: Aerial Views Of How Mexico Moves
Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:57 am
"I've figured out that there are more of them when it's a payday," photographer Alejandro Cartagena writes to me from Monterrey, Mexico, where he is based.
More carpoolers, that is — the subject of his latest project, which started somewhat accidentally. Cartagena was commissioned by a group of researchers about usage of a Monterrey street. "I wanted to see the car in the context of the street and the urbanscape," he explains. "That took me to find higher points of view, where I found these workers."
On any given morning — he only shoots during rush hour — he might see up to 15 trucks like this whiz by.
This series fits in with Cartagena's general focus on suburban sprawl and, in his words, "social, urban and environmental issues of Latin America." Another project for which he has received some accolades is a series called Suburbia Mexicana.
In 2008, he explains on his website, the Monterrey metro area was selected by the government for a huge investment; "and for the first time in Mexican history, the [housing] commission has issued 497,000 loans toward buying houses in all of Mexico."
According to Cartagena, that has led to a huge onslaught of development in and around Monterrey. His paradoxically beautiful images document the growth that is under way in the area, and the ways in which it is changing life for Mexicans.
"What are the consequences of these constructions on the ecosystems," he asks, "the people, the already built city?" That's what he's trying to answer in general.
And that's what he wonders when he sees carpooling. In America, we often do it to save gas or some money, or to leave a smaller footprint. For the people in these photos, Cartagena contends, carpooling is a necessity. "If these guys would do the bus route," he writes, "it would be too expensive for them, since there are no proper mass low-cost transportation systems in place."
Plus, he continues, with the new emphasis on housing, most expendable cash goes toward homeownership.
For a seemingly simple and — at first glance — somewhat humorous series, there is a lot going on out of the frame. Learn more on Cartagena's website.