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NY Times Lens Blog Feature: Alejandro Cartagena

Posted By Administration, Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, January 3, 2014

New Series Car Poolers
at Kopeikin Gallery


Last winter Dominican-born and Mexican-based photographer Alejandro Cartegena perched on a bridge that overlooked a highway running between Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and Laredo, Texas. From his hidden post Cartegena snapped overhead shots of passing traffic. The images captured were of regular but often unseen commuters. The bird's eye view revealed the backs of truck-beds full of equipment and hidden workers. Riding in the truck bed is illegal, so the men conceal themselves by lying down. The men fill every crevice un-occupied by equipment. We see they often they lay across, between, and on equipment. Like sardines the men are tightly packed- up to four across and at times an extra at the foot.

The images are as intimate as they are voyeuristic, and it is this in-between feeling that heightens tension and interest. The view Cartegena provides is a window into a larger reality. Many go to great lengths to make a living. They risk safety, the law, and even ego. The air of machoism is broken down as personal space is surrendered. The works are in-line with Cartegena's earlier projects and even seem to offer a metaphoric look inside his previous series, Suburbia Mexicana, which focused on new suburban communities popping up in the northern region of Monterrey. This new work becomes the inside-story. This is the behind-the-scenes look at a group of honest men earning an honest living. Still, this work we know reveals only the tip of the iceberg on the stories of these men, their families, their living condition, their determination, their drive. Their sacrifice reveals their pride.

The work is crisp, dynamic, and moving. A display of works beside each other enhances the presence of each frame, and the whole becomes a highway.

For more information on this work please visit the New York Times Blog

More on the artist and his work at Kopeikin Gallery

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