Este Lado (This Side)

Este Lado is a collaborative project with residents from various cities between Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez along the northern border of Mexico. This work portrays the lives, memories, and futures of the people living in these communities and the aspect of normalcy, which still exists for those who grow up and live in a place plagued with such a violent reputation.
Over a decade has passed since Mexico’s ex-president Calderón declared the war on drugs, and residents on both sides of the border are now faced with much uncertainty in the current political landscape.
Woven together are my own images, which show contemporary life on the Mexican side of the border, while the messages and historic images give voice to my subjects’ emotions and show us a glimpse into their childhoods, creating a narrative arch between the past and the present. Aiming to discover and interpret what life is like and how it was over recent decades, by analyzing and deconstructing the stereotypes of US / MX border culture, the idea of the ‘American Dream’ and giving voice to the people who grew up there or still call it home.
This application is comprised of 6 diptychs including original images, appropriated images, and texts. All appropriated images and texts are used with permission of the participants.


About the photographer
Erin Lee was born in New Zealand in 1985, after studying professional photography in New Zealand she has spent the last 10 years working abroad. Subsequently initiating her career between Melbourne and New York City, Erin eventually moved on to Mexico City where she was based for five years as an editorial and documentary photographer. Throughout her career, she has also been involved in various aspects of photographic education programs, from teaching in photography schools in Mexico City to provide free photography workshops for children in Mexico City, and adult workshops in the northern states of Mexico.
Erin’s work applies environmental portraiture to landscapes and habitats to examine social issues, proposed in a way which challenges the traditional format of documentary photography. Her projects become “portraits” of a place and the people that inhabit them, designed to break stereotypes surrounding the chosen topic.
Erin’s career as a freelance photographer has led her to become a frequent contributor to Vice Magazine and has published with other media outlets such as Financial Times London, CNN, and The Guardian, among others. Erin’s work has been exhibited in Australia, New York, Portugal, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico and she has been selected for artist residencies in Venezuela, France, and Algeria.
“I grew up right next to that wall. It is porous. Building it up to the sky it is a waste of money, and money is time, gold and blood. That money is already bloody. It comes from exploited people who have been burned.”



Don’t run.



“What scares me about living in a border city is the fragility of our human and civil rights, where we can all be suspected or accused instantly, or where something can happen to us and nothing or nobody is going to do anything.”



At least no one will miss me, mamá.



“This country has no memory, it is an extremely racist country, discriminating within its equals and it is malinchista – always preferring foreigners. We do not work towards the common good.”



Don’t leave.

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