“People without memory are condemned to repeat their mistakes.”

Guerrero is one of the Mexican states that has been most affected by organized crime. It is the second poorest state in the country and by far the most violent. The condition of social and economic marginalization of Guerrero are becoming ever more evident, as the rule of law deteriorates further. Forced disappearances are only one of the symptoms that prove it.

In 2013, three of my brothers-in-law were taken from us. They used to live in Iguala, the same place where the 43 Ayotzinapa students disappeared. As we found out, one of them was killed while the other two disappeared.

After these events, I began documenting my family, and the families of other missing people, in order to capture in photographs the psychological and emotional breakdown caused by the loss of family members. I am working with the concepts of pain, emptiness, absence, and forgetting.

Through my work, I seek social and cultural clues that can allow me to create a personal account of the issues that families face when dealing with an unexpected death. Through their testimony, I want to show the relationship between intimate spaces and personal life experiences.

I am thus trying to depict the situation which many families in this region face and which they live through daily. This is just one of the many causes of the unraveling of Mexico’s social fabric today.

—Yael Martinez