Border Wars: Disturbing Photographs

Laurie says:

As I said in my blog War Photographs: Disturbing Images

I’ve been thinking about beautiful photographs of dreadful things for a long time. They make me viscerally uncomfortable. I’ll look at the front page of a newspaper and react positively to a beautifully composed photograph, and then I realize it’s of fighters shooting guerrillas and someone is dying in the corner of the photo and I react with quick anger. Not all of this kind of work is beautifully composed, but I’m reflecting on the work that is. There are many exceptions.

I’m still thinking about it. These are beautiful and exquisitely composed photographs from another sometime war zone. The one on our Mexican border.  These are disturbing in subtler ways: some of them only obvious in their backstory.  You need to know what they are to understand the disturbing connections. People are dying by these walls.
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A section of the controversial US-Mexico border fence expansion project crosses previously pristine desert sands at sunrise on March 14, 2009, between Yuma, Arizona and Calexico, California. The barrier stands 15 feet tall and sits on top of the sand so it can lifted by a machine and repositioned whenever the migrating desert dunes begin to bury it. The almost seven miles of floating fence cost about $6 million per mile to build. (David McNew/Getty Images)

From The Atlantic’s In Focus:

The border between the United States and Mexico stretches 3,169 kilometers (1,969 miles), crossing deserts, rivers, towns, and cities from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. Every year, an estimated 350 million people legally cross the border, with another 500,000 entering into the United States illegally. No single barrier stretches across the entire border, instead, it is lined with a patchwork of steel and concrete fences, infrared cameras, sensors, drones, and nearly 20,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents. As immigrants from Mexico and other Central and South American countries continue to try to find their way into the U.S., Congress is now considering an immigration reform bill called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. The bill proposes solutions to current border enforcement problems and paths to citizenship for the estimated 11 million existing illegal immigrants in the U.S. Gathered here are images of the US-Mexico border from the past few
years.

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A suspected drug trafficker stands, caught in the weeds on the bank of the Rio Grande River at the US-Mexico Border, on April 11, 2013 in Mission, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images)
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Mauricia Horta Fuentes, 36, stands for a portrait along the fence marking the US-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico, on June 23, 2012. Fuentes, who lived and worked in the United States for years, drove up to a roadblock in Escondido, California, in September, 2008, on her way to pick up kids from school. Since then she has been cut off from her children, and has been forced to create a new life in her old country. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
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U.S. Border Patrol agent Sal De Leon stands near a section of the US- Mexico border fence while on patrol on April 10, 2013 in La Joya, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images)

I don’t have conclusions about this conversation I’m having with myself but I expect it will express itself at some point in my work. (The fuller conversation is in the blog linked to above.)