The title for this series comes from a conversation I had with a soldier while asking for permission to take his photograph. The soldier’s answer summarized a sense of paranoia with which people in Mexico cope everyday of their lives.

This project started as my attempt to test the charged image that we hold of Mexico today via mainstream media and popular culture. It evolved into a photographing of the personal experience and qualities that shaped my interpretation of the place.

Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is referred to as if it is a single place, but they are two neighbouring towns on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. A tourist destination, mainly for Mexicans, Ixtapa is the spic-and-span big hotel town with all of its public services in place, while Zihuatanejo is where the majority of those who work in Ixtapa live. The government is attempting to re-brand tourist destinations by increasing security in these areas. The irony is that this “bubble-wrapping” , in combination with the violence present just below the surface, manifests as an ambiguity and tension that floats in the air.

The photobook displayed on the video showcases 96 photographs. Its four way opening overlays the images making almost 350 possible different image configurations — an indication of the complex juxtapositions of everyday life in Mexico.

—Monica Alcazar-Duarte