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Landscape photography is not only the portrayal of what can be seen, but also the invisible processes that make those landscapes change.
In his most recent book, Mexican photographer Alejandro Cartagena (b. 1977, Dominican Republic) continues his extensive visual documentation of the urbanisation of land in northern Mexico.
The result from over 15 years of work, the project considers idealised notions of life in the suburbs and the enormous impact these dysfunctional developments have had on the surrounding region through transportation links, infrastructure and a cookie-cutter approach to architecture and urban planning. A Small Guide to Homeownership takes its stylistic cues from the ubiquitous How to...? guide books. Printed on thin paper and running to over 300 pages, it encompasses an extensive range of visual material.
Utilising landscape images, advertisements, texts, portraits, city backdrops and documentary photography to create layered collages, Cartagena weaves a complex cautionary tale about the historical, political, public and personal concepts and processes of home-buying in Mexico. The book follows a series of protagonists, such as Cartagena’s brother, illustrating their personal struggles in overcoming bureaucratic challenges to fulfil the propagandised dream of finding their own home.
Another important factor is also the influence of the USA and how their approach to urban development and gentrification, adopted by the Mexican Government after the 1960s, has led to the ongoing economic and social divide.