Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The missing women of Ciudad Juarez as seen by Mayra Martell

Cinthia Jacobeth Castaneda Alvarado, 13 years old, disappeared October 24, 2008

It was my pleasure at the Kassel Photobook Festival, in the course of portfolio reviews to meet Mexican photographer Mayra Martell. Mayra showed me her project on the missing young women of Ciudad Juarez a Mexican border town across the Rio Grande from U.S. city of El Paso, Texas. All the reviewers were astounded and moved by this work and we unanimously nominated Mayra for the festival's Reviewer Award, a prize of 3,300 Euro.

Mayra's project to document the private spaces of the missing women from Ciudad Juarez is as much about memory as anything else. Her heartfelt images record the traces and painful reminders, all that's left for the many still grieving families.

Mayra says this about her project.

Utopia: If we take a step to obtain it, it moves away a step, if we take two steps, it moves away two steps; so concluding a utopia is used for walking.

On July 22 of 2003, the declaration of the president of Mexico's Human Rights National Committee, Jose Luis Soberanes, outraged the international press; he stated that the number of disappeared woman in Ciudad Juarez exceeded the thousands. To the date the number is still open, no political branch or organization knows exactly the number of disappeared woman.
Several doubts arose in me; on what moment did those woman became Fictitious? What happened to their families? With the spaces were they existed?
Such question became so constant; I ended up at the state's law enforcement station requesting information on the missing women. The murdered woman of Ciudad Juarez was not my interest, perhaps my concern, but not my main interest, only the disappearances. How is it possible that so many missing woman and in such that number are unaccounted for? My primary intention was to validate the disappearance of the woman, not of numbers. I wanted to see their rooms almost as an intuitive movement, as a past necessity.
The police reports don't give any information as to their families who try to continue with their lives. The living rooms remains intact, however these people are filled with images, religious images, their daughter images, hopeful images, and they do not know that to do with all of them. They search for the clothing that she wore a day before disappearing, it conserves her scent. After years, it is necessary the presence of another person to renew the memory. That is there were they are, it is there where they survive. They are still waiting.

Griselda Muroa Lopez, 16 years old, disappeared April 13th, 2009

Jazmin Chavarria Corrales, 21 years old, disappeared February 20th, 2007

Diana Noralay Piaga Reyna, 16 years old, disappeared February 27th, 2009

Maria Guadalupe Perez Montes, (Lupita), 17 years, disappeared January 31st, 2009

No comments: