Arturo Soto’s project proposal entails a photographic depiction of Ciudad Juárez in Mexico that reflects the city’s complex history. Processes of globalization and a specific urban hybridity, both of which are due to Juárez’ geographical location on the border with the USA, have shaped the city’s history. Over the past twenty years, Juarez has become infamous for drug trafficking and its general state of violence.
“My father and I were born in Juárez, although I have never lived there. I grew up listening to his many stories about his infancy and youth, before the maquiladoras (manufacturing complexes) altered the geography and social fabric of the city in every conceivable way. I always had a hard time reconciling my father’s stories with the landscape in its present state, and a huge effort was necessary to imagine what was no longer there.“
Arturo Soto is especially interested in investigating how personal and cultural memory are embedded in the landscape. He doesn’t understand the city simply as a physical space, but also as a sum of individual imaginaries. Based on the statement above, Arturo Soto plans to work together with his father and interweave his father’s anecdotes with images of public spaces in order to confound past and present realities. Arturo Soto is drawn to this topic mainly out of a preoccupation with understanding how a plain image of a place can be loaded with history, affect and social significance, but also remain in obscurity at the same time.
The interdependencies between natural and built landscape and human action are a thematic focal point in Arturo Soto’s work, which he explores by means of various photographic practices. With the series In the Heat, he interrogates how personal experience influences the ways one negotiates, and ultimately represents landscape. The ongoing series Blind Views, on the other hand, examines how public spaces influence our quotidian experience.
Arturo Soto is a photographer living in Mexico City. You can browse other projects mentioned in his portfolio at arturosotophotography.com.
Photos: Arturo Soto