We received a surprise gift from Mexico in the mail this week and we were incredibly excited to discover inside a new book by Alejandro Cartagena, who's photographs of 'Fragmented Cities' we introduced in Elsewhere No.02.
Rivers of Power is again centred on Monterrey, Mexico and is a beautifully packaged and designed compilation of archive material and Alejandro's own photographs; a case study in the forces of nature versus human interference. It documents the history of tension between the Santa Catarina River and corrupt parties in power, irrational urban planning and misguided entrepreneurial spirit.
"This is the story of the tragic relationship between two bodies: a critical narration of the long and failed relationship between a society and a river. Although today it is a long and winding sarcophagus, in the past the city depended on the abundance of its stream. Centuries later, with Monterrey transformed into a regional industrial enclave, the Santa Catarina River served as border between social classes: the employers on the north side, the laborers on the south. The first hydraulic engineering works were carried out at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1909, wells and dikes were routed through pipes. That same year the river overflowed and caused the catastrophic flood that took over 5 thousand lives. Entire families disappeared. Since then, the river has been serving a sentence, receiving the treatment of a beast, with its future in peril. ..."
Rivers of Power its mix of archive images, blurred film/tv news stills and outstanding photography is beautiful to look at even though the subject matter is - as always in Alejandro's work - quite disturbing.