"If Images Could Fill Our Empty Spaces" - dir. by Alice Driver

In 2009, I read Julián Cardona’s introduction to the photography exhibit World Class City, which featured photos that told the story of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the destructive changes it wrought in Ciudad Juárez. Julián’s photos showed informal housing settlements made of cardboard that were prone to go up in flames, men rummaging through dumps to earn a living, used hosiery that women washed, mended, and dried on a clothesline to later be resold – his images told stories of economic violence. I had carried his words with me, a constant chant running through my mind. He wrote, “Juárez blows like cold wind through the windows of our souls and demands our attention. We embrace its images as if they could fill our own empty spaces, but we cannot hold on.” For me, the quote captured an essential paradox of human nature: our hunger for voyeuristic graphic imagery, for something to fill that void that threatens to engulf us all, accompanied by the knowledge that such images will never be able to satisfy us. So many people, just like me, have been drawn to Ciudad Juárez over the past two decades in an effort to try to understand the explosion of violence, the poverty, and the root of government dysfunction in order to try to make sense of what is going on. Somehow we believe that in seeing, in finding the right images, the most truthful images, we will understand the city and its plight. This film follows the lives of four Juárez photographers - Julian Cardona, Lucio Soria, Itzel Aguilera, and Jaime Bailleres and reflects on violence, humanity, and the limits of photography.


"It’s almost like we’re fetishizing these dead women. To always be looking back at these women as if their bodies are this kind of sacrificial host—I find that to be troubling, in terms of our culture and our focus on life and death and what it means. In other words, if you’re constantly focusing on women as if they’re this symbol for suffering, you never move beyond that particular death to look at the social conditions that gave that kind of life, and that kind of death, for so, so many people."

(via proyectojuarez)

“In this chapter, I shall use Walter Benjamin’s notion of a dialectical image to examine the figure of the Mexican woman worker formed within the narrative of her general disposability. The dialectical image is one whose apparent stillness obscures the tensions that actually hold it in suspension. It is a caesura forged by clashing forces. With this dialectical image in mind, I see the Mexican woman depicted in the murder narratives as a life stilled by the discord of value pitted against waste. I focus on the narrative image of her, rather than on the lives of the murder victims, to reveal the intimate connection binding these stilled lives to the reproductions of value in the maquiladoras located in Ciudad Juarez. Through a comparison of a maquiladora narrative of categorical disavowal of responsibility for the violence with another maquila narrative explaining the mundane problem of labor turnover, the Mexican woman freezes as a subject stilled by the tensions linking the two tales.”
— Melissa Wright, Disposable Women and Other Myths of Global Capitalism  (via overnightbivouac)