Mexican Suburbs by Alejandro Cartagena


Suburbia mexicana is a five part project that revolves around the representation of the current Mexican suburban sprawl with a focus on the metropolitan area of Monterrey (mam). This first part of the project sheds light on the implemented neo-liberal economic strategies made by the Mexican government since 2001 that have pushed urban growth out of the regulation of the metropolitan urban plan. This has created contradicting policies that have let construction firms build more than 300,000 new houses around the 9 cities of the mam. In 2008, the national housing commission (infonavit) marked Monterrey’s metro area as first place in the issuing of home loans and for the first time in Mexican history, the commission has issued 497,000 loans towards buying houses in all of México. consequently, this demand has granted a green light to developers to urbanize in ways where profit is sought out for over the well being of the community, with roadways, parks and proper public transport systems standing far from becoming a reality. Amazingly even in the financial and mortgage crisis being lived in most of the world, the commission just announced in June that they will position another 500,000 loans for housing in 2009. After photographing these landscapes for the past 3 years I have now returned to many of the finished housing complexes and learned of many misfortunes the new inhabitants are facing, the ecological impact and the increasing distance being formed between the well-urbanized City and these new fragmented cities in the peripheries; a new chaotic ambient to which México is growing into.
The different aspects of Suburbia mexicana propose alternate narratives, which depict a global issue from a local perspective. I feel that my commitment as a photographer is not to denounce our need for a household, but rather to point out the struggle we face following the ideals of a capitalistic system while striving for fairer cities in which to live.
Through the 1960s and 80s many photographers portrayed and centered their work on industrial and suburban sites; the man altered landscape. It is now, 30 years later that the inevitable action-reaction to those human acts they pictured would start showing up somewhere. Lost rivers is a representation of nature’s non-beneficiaries of our actual urban well-being. In the northeastern Mexican state of Nuevo León, some rivers and streams have dried out or in the process of drying after Monterrey’s metropolitan area erupted its urban growth and its demand for water. These dried up streams and rivers are one of many unintended consequences of wrongly implemented economical strategies. Relying less on irony and more on a romantic representation of decay, lost rivers is a social comment on contemporary Mexican unplanned urban development.

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