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Monica Alcazar Duarte

Your photographs could be used by drug dealers

Above Left: Fragments of conversations with people while in Mexico. Installation view, London, May 2014.
Above Right: Lightbox Installation view, London, May 2014.

Your photographs could be used by drug dealers is a photographic Installation consisting of 96 photographs within a lightbox mobile.

Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa are two towns located in the state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Ixtapa is the spic-and-span hotel town, while Zihuatanejo is where Ixtapa's workers live. Ixtapa was built with the intention of bringing jobs and prosperity to the area, but ironically it has decreased the tourism in Zihuatanejo. The violence in Guerrero has made the front pages many times, but I did not go there because of this. There is a duality to these towns that attracted me. The relationship between these two places speaks of a wider condition throughout the country. The government, in an attempt to re-brand the country, has bubble-wrapped tourist destinations. This means that Ixtapa is well lit at night and heavily policed. On the other hand the streetlights seem to become sparse once you enter Zihuatanejo. This double standard interests me as it results in an ambiguity and a tension that has permeated daily life.

While producing the work I understood how what you know guides what you see. I realised I wanted to communicate how my perception of Mexico, and my actual experience within the project differed immensely. I wanted to reveal the gap between my expectations of the place and how it actually felt.
It became evident that I needed to translate my experience using the many layers that composed it. In order to communicate the notion that the photographs were part of a subjective experience, I took a fragment of my conversation with a soldier and made into the title. The title provokes a strong image, due to what it states, but also due to what we consider to be the knowledge we have of Mexico.

I think it is very important to approach information and image with a strategy. In this day and age, when information and its context changes at such a rapid pace, we need to develop an almost curatorial gaze. I use my work to declare that I don't truly know as much as I think I do. By doing so, I believe I become more open and encourage myself to constantly re-examine. In a way my work oscillates between generating and re-examining conclusions. This could be interpreted as a highly relativist approach, but I use this oscillation to stimulate different interconnections. I do this with the hope of generating a more honest approach to knowledge.



Image: Julieta 33 degrees C, 9 A.M.
All images copyright Monica Alcazar-Duarte 2014