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Alejandro Cartagena photographs the particularities of the suburbs of Monterrey, Mexico, which are relatively new and often hastily built, reflecting a general disregard for planning. Over the years, various governmental policies have resulted in new, decentralized cities with limited infrastructures, where the pursuit of immediate financial gain trumps any interest in sustainability. Cartagena captures both the destruction that rapid urbanization has imposed on the landscape and the phenomenon of densely packed housing. Pictures of dried-up riverbeds attest to the water misallocation and depletion brought about by the construction, and Cartagena depicts perpetual rows of tiny houses slicing directly into the foothills of the picturesque mountains that surround Monterrey. Only the landscape appears capable of limiting their proliferation: the mountains and rivers seem the only forces able of containing the suburban sprawl.
Ultimately, Cartagena documents the chaos and destruction that result from scant or misguided urban planning. He lives in downtown Monterrey, and he cares deeply about its land, its people, and its future. Understanding that overdevelopment is not just a local problem, he works hard as an artist to share his photographs as one clear plea for responsible, sustainable development in a rapidly changing world. Text adapted from the Introduction by Karen Irvine, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, Chicago. Co-published with Photolucida.
Introduction by Karen Irvine
Essay by Gerardo Montiel Klint
Interview by Lisa Uddin