I am raising money to complete a hauntingly beautiful photo book about life along the northern borders of Mexico's drug war. I will be using kickstarter generated funds to pay for an editor, book designer and most importantly a publishing company. The state of the book publishing industry these days generally requires the artist to bring substantial funds to the table to offset costs that book publishers simply cant cover anymore. Its like medical care, I need to bring a hefty co-pay to get results.
Reckoning at the Frontier is a photographic window into Mexico’s struggle with organized crime along its border with the United States. Centered around two cities, Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, Reckoning takes the viewer through the harsh deserts and urban mazes of northern Mexico on both a literal and interpretive photographic journey.
I began photographing along the US Mexico border in June of 2005. Over the next five years, I made over a dozen trips to northern Mexico, each fueled by an evolving sense of thematic interpretation and historical perspective. I grew with the work as the border’s modern history unfolded before me. In 2010, I moved to the outskirts of Tijuana, where I live today.
Seven years ago when I began, my agenda was vague. I wandered through the arid Tijuana hills photographing anything that caught my interest. A group of immigrants waiting to cross into the US, young children playing along the border fence, or an echelon of police motorcycles at a memorial service for slain officers. At that time, I had no idea that this project would be so strongly shaped by the modern Narco-wars that have been unfolding for years. I merely wanted to represent what life on the border looked and felt like. But it was impossible not to be drawn into the fray of organized crime; a phenomenon that is almost entirely misunderstood from a historical, economic and political perspective.
Part journalistic reportage and part conceptual interpretation, Reckoning looks beyond the body counts and media misinformation to reveal a country at war with it’s own ghosts. Thematically, I am most intrigued by the notion that the wild western frontier has changed very little from the days of Pancho Villa and the Mexican revolution. Outlaws and dirty cops still control vast swaths of Mexican territory. Powerful four-wheel drive trucks have replaced horses, and lever-action rifles have been exchanged for fully automatic assault weapons. The government and its enforcers are still murderously corrupt, and the divide between rich and poor is still ultimately negotiated from behind the barrel of a gun.
I approached the subject with a cinematic eye rather than a strictly journalistic documentary style. I used a deliberately bleak color palette to accentuate the true feeling of the unforgiving desert. The terrain and the weather play into the narrative, the desert itself becomes a character.
From the beginning of this project, I have always seen it as a book that would bring artistic sensibility to a subject matter that typically turns audiences away. I hope to give viewers greater perspective of a land and people that are so often vilified with extreme prejudice due to political agendas and basic misunderstanding. I was inspired to realize this project not only by previous works of journalism, but also by great works of fiction. I hope to pass on and build upon this inspiration so that others might seek out their own understanding of this pivotal point in Mexico’s history.
The Reckoning team includes picture editor Jasmine DeFoore, book designer Maggie Fost, social media director Erin Siegal, and writer Myles Estey.
This Kickstarter campaign will raise money to help pay for the printing costs of the book. The reality of today's book publishing industry demands that the artist contribute substantial money towards printing and distribution. The photography is done, I have the material. Now comes the hard part, and I need your help!
Risks and challenges
Most of the risks have already been taken: Me slinking around the killing floor of the Mexican narco-war for several years. I'm still alive, and I've kept my Mexican contacts safe. I now want something to show for the many years and sacrifices I have invested into this project. The only risk now is me losing money on the publishing end, but I just ordered a money tree from Amazon and it should be growing cash in the next ten years.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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