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Portraits of Mexico City: A Missing Identity

Growing up third or fourth generation Mexican American in Southern California is as usual an occurrence as 70-degree winters, Santa Ana winds and scorching summer fires. It’s an ethnic identity so common that it doesn’t feel like an identity at all. Spanish streets, cities and surnames are as omnipresent as we are, and yet my mixed ethnicity followed and shaped my childhood. My father’s attitude toward day laborers standing pensively on suburban street corners to his overly respectful interactions with policemen, gave me a sympathy and wariness I subconsciously internalized. Moving away—to the midwest, abroad, down south, back east—this identity faded as quickly and unexpectedly as childhood. With so much Native American mixed into my … [Read more...]

La Vida: Photography and Time at the Center

Thoughts sparked by: RETURN TO CENTRO HISTORICO: A Mexican Jew Looks for His Roots by Ilan Stavans (Rutgers University Press, 2012) – 'Ilanchik, what do you think?' In his photographic memoir, Return to Centro Historico, Ilan Stavans begins with direct address. His father has unexpectedly e-mailed him a photograph of the Angel de la Independencia, the sculpture that sits at the top of a column at the center of the Paseo de la Reforma roundabout in Mexico City. The height of the statue, placed 118 feet above the column’s base, makes it difficult to discern its details in any way other than through the close-up lens of photography. 'Did you know it was a girl? A bronze girl, half-naked?' The father asks his son for his … [Read more...]