Bordering Photography and Activism

migrant-minuteman.jpgWhat happens when you give to seemingly oppositional social forces disposable cameras? Hopefully a more humanized image of conflict, in this case the Minutemen vs. illegal border-crossers coming from Mexico. The Border Film Project supplied disposable cameras to immigrants in Mexican shelters and asked them to document their journeys. The vigilante Minutemen group who are patrolling the US-Mexico frontier were given a similar opportunity.

Although the process would seem neutral, one cannot help but see more clearly power relations between racial groups and nations. Sadly, the largely white Minutemen appear no better than emasculated males who are “playing army” in a situation of greater chaos in which they feel powerless. (View a chilling anti-immigrant ad by one of the Minutemen founders, Jim Gilchris- requires Windows Media Player.) Of course I am biased and feel inclined to empathize with the plight of the immigrants who face tremendous stress in their environments as well. The band Control Machete from Monterey remind us in their lyrics that it is the US, after all, that keeps beaming images of prosperity and magic through the media. Are we not Oz?

Border Film Project:

To simplify the complexities of immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border, and to show the realities on the ground. To date, we have received more than 1,500 photographs and more continue to arrive everyday. The pictures speak for themselves. They capture the humanity present on both sides of the border. They tell stories that no news piece or policy debate or academic study could convey. They are non-partisan and inclusive”

(Via Huffington Post.)

  • tesuquejm

    This project, like other similar ones, offers the opportunity for all voices to be heard–not a bad thing when you have a group like undocumented immigrants who are normally silent. And since the pictures will eventually be seen in art museums, their voices will be heard by many who might not otherwise pay attention. Often, also, giving the camera to those involved provides surprises and insights that might not otherwise appear if the images were shot by a photo journalist. The downside is that since the images are unedited the viewer has to pick through a lot of junk.

  • What a fascinating project, I would love to see the photos. I checked the link to Border Project, but did not find any images there. Hopefully they will post them soon.