The Velvet Cell, 2021
Softbound, 16 x 24 cm
352 pages, color photographs
Available upon request (waiting time: 10 days)
“The precarious situation of public transportation, and of mobility in general, remains ultra-underrepresented in public debate, as a matter condemned to languish on many public ‘to do’ lists. This means that the work of Alejandro Cartagena takes on specific political importance in making visible the costs of this inaction on the quality of life of people living in the Metropolitan Area of Monterrey”
Ximena Peredo (Secretary for Citizen Participation)
Almost daily between 1993 and 2004, Alejandro Cartagena would commute on a suburban bus from Monterrey to the suburban city of Juarez and back. Working at his family’s restaurant, he watched the gradual changes happening in Juarez. Between 2000 and 2005, the city went from a population of 66,000 to 144,000. He watched Juarez be eaten up, all through the window of the bus.
On those trips, he read, fell asleep, daydreamed of owning a car, and lamented being stuck in this metal creature in the 40-degree heat of northern Mexico.
12 years later, and now a photographer, he decided to take the bus once again to capture the experience thousands of blue-collar suburbanites have every day. What he saw made him reencounter the unintended mental and physical anxieties produced by the unplanned urban development.
This book is a story about people wanting a better life in a city characterized by lack; the lack of proper roads, the lack of enough buses, the lack of security inside the buses.