Special Feature: Photography Series by John Sevigny

“One hundred years after Lewis W. Hine started work on his Ellis Island portraits, I wanted to document Latin American immigrants, hoping to give faces to the catch-all masses lambasted by Lou Dobbs, Pat Buchanan, and others who equate immigration with crime. This collection of portraits of Central American immigrants was taken at the Belen Posada del Migrante, a shelter in the northern Mexican city of Saltillo.A subplot of this project is immigrants’ desire to travel for the sake of traveling. Many immigrants—particularly the males—who get to Saltillo do not continue their journey to the United States, but return to their home countries. Many seem to have found what they were looking for on the road, or decide to interrupt their journeys for fear of crossing the dangerous US-Mexico border.” –  John Sevigny

John Sevigny is a photographer, teacher, writer, and curator, who lives in Mexico. www.gonecity.blogspot.com

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2 thoughts on “Special Feature: Photography Series by John Sevigny

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  1. I was really captivated by this photographs and it’s breadth of subjects–young men, older men. I also like their anonymity, and paired with the comment on some men not crossing the border, I think it’s interesting to see that some people a) don’t make it, b) don’t want to make it, and c) have found other opportunities. America is said to be this great land of opportunity, but in reality, the possibility of getting an opportunity is low. And I think that rather than being US-centric and thinking of it as a “failure”, we should respect these men (and women sometimes) for whatever choices they make.

  2. Thanks for the comment. A lot of what I do is about the words we use to describe people, and taking the images those words provoke and replacing them with more accurate ones. This particular project was very much about re-defining the “platonic” vision that comes along with the word “immigrant.” Since I took these photographs, immigration has changed from something that people do themselves, into something they are more often forced to do literally at gunpoint. Poverty was once the main motivation. Now it’s profits for scum-bag traffickers. In retrospect this set of pictures to me is a kind of a last glimpse at a time in which immigrants were hopeful, and to some extent, free. The massacre at Tamaulipas and countless other crimes that have happened since then are evidence that things aren’t like that anymore. I agree about the US no longer being a land of opportunity. Many latinos (and returning US citizens like myself) find the United States restrictive, punitive, paralyzing and prefer to live in more chaotic places where, for example, you don’t need permits to sell food in front of your house and flagrant police abuses seem far less rare (even though corruption may be more prevalent.) – js

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