The Backpackers/ Los Mochileros
Project info


While I have been documenting communities in the Americas with the focus at human, social and environmental issues for the last ten years, my interest grew in the border area, which divides Mexico and the US. This 2,000 mile long demarcation, which for many years could be easily crossed both ways, now is a trail of tears and the graveyard for thousands. Often portrayed as a dangerous area defined by illegal immigration and drug smuggling, the border is often misunderstood and maligned.

Of all the borders dividing the US with Mexico, Nogales has seen the largest number of undocumented migrants during the last decade and the greatest number of recovered remains of migrants, perished in extreme condition in the desert of southern Arizona.

Over the last three years I have photographed on both sides of the border in Nogales, following deported migrants as well migrants who tried to cross the border to either find work or to reunite with their families who already live in the US. I wanted to know more about these people, called migrants or illegals and learn why do they risk their life to cross this unforgiving desert? We all have seen many photographs from migrants on their route. In my photographs, I put the focus on the faces. The different contrast in the images should show, how our perception is changing, depending of the context in which we look at things and people. It should create tension and raise questions.

In my photographs I am interested in transitory and intuitive moments and the subtleties of the overall scene. My goal is to create an emotional connection with the viewer, so that through the esthetic the content of the images becomes more powerful because you become more involved with the photograph.

With the series of photographs shown, I have created a book dummy, called the Backpackers/ El Molicheros, which includes interviews, portraits and text. I chose the title, because the only thing migrants carry on their route is a backpack.