School Girls on a bus in Juárez, 2002
How many times have I wanted to cross over the Bridge to Juárez, jump on a ruta autobus and never return to mi lado (the other side, El Paso, America) again?
A bunch of times. Actually, in the last decade, every time. ¡Muchos tiempos!
When I go to Juárez I realize within minutes that the bubble I live in America is a prison not a home. It’s a construction. A development.
Instead of working this feeling out, I take photographs, like an archeologist, always trying to root out what this means, and, for a very long time that has been enough.
But it isn’t enough now.
I’ve reached an age and a stage where if something isn’t real it isn’t OK, and I trust my feelings to know what rings true.
I’ve come to a place where truth is sweet wine and the pretty word/mind picture that looks like successes just a flicker, like a digital video image that pixelates for an instant, disintegrates into a weird busy mosaic for a moment and then reforms into a clean and clear image. One is left all too aware that what you’ve been looking at is just an image, constructed from electronic materials, not a living breathing reality.
Our country -perhaps the whole “first world” has become a planned development, a grid built for consumption. Every highway, every building reeks of impermanence. It’s a society built by actuaries that calculate shelf life and then proceed, not a society that proceeds and builds for forever.
Juárez is a reality. Warts and all.
It’s got problems but they are in the open, real. Its “texture” is being sandpapered, too… but because it has less equity, it is being transformed more slowly.
It has pure moments of beauty as well.
These smiling girls, on a public bus, are doing nothing but what they’re doing. The photograph is just a record of what happened.
When I go back across that bridge, to El Paso, to America, I no longer am sure what is reality or what is a construction of a reality that I’m supposed to embrace but that I know I do not love.
Do I really have to love flat textureless buildings in endless commercial strips? Do I really have to love the Interstate, a battleground without ethical guidelines or decency.
The clue to this image is that it never flickers. It doesn’t give clues that you may be seeing someone else’s construction of a reality.
The image does not flicker. It just is. Frozen. Still. Permanent.
What flickers I don’t trust.