ARTIST: ANDREW SULLIVAN
PROJECT: ENDANGERED SPECIES
Endangered Species. Mexico's murder rate went up 16% in the first half of 2018, a grim statistic that suggested this year would be the bloodiest in the country's history. Time magazine approximated that someone was killed every 15 minutes in May. Where I'm based has the reputation of being a safe haven. In travel around the country, I have seldom been in danger, yet I worry about personal safety. Reconciling my daily life with the headlines I see in the "prensa amarilla," the infamous scandal sheets of Mexican newsstands, leads to thoughts that I'm living in a fantasy world while a war rages closer than I want to believe. While I recognize that I am not a target of the violence between rival criminal cartels, that sense of unease provided the idea for this project. I thought of looking over my shoulder on a quiet street in a strange town, and noticed Mexicans doing the same as I would pass in the street. I sensed a certain vigilance, and started to photograph scenes that seemed to signify something other than what was depicted. I didn't want to photograph violence. I wanted the photos themselves, and the relationships between pictures, to suggest that something was awry, that something lay beneath the surface. Mexico blends beauty with the sinister, joy with despair, and mystery with the mundane. It's those contradictions that interest me- and make me uncomfortable.
Andrew Sullivan grew up on a dirt road in Vermont, and started sneaking out of the house at night when he was 12. He has photographed for The New York Times, and exhibited his work at the University of Veracruz in Mexico. Sullivan came to Mexico to photograph myth and history mingling with daily life, and to experiment with Lewis Baltz's idea of how a series of photographs can be "paper movies." He leads occasional workshops in Mexico and Guatemala, and is a contributing photographer for Craftsmanship Quarterly.
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