"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.