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A Lens on the Pickup Carpoolers of Monterrey

For many commuters in Mexico, the daily trip to work means climbing into the back of a pickup. Monterrey-based photographer Alejandro Cartagena spent a year capturing these intimate yet public scenes, culminating in a new exhibit at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles.

Cartagena photographed his subjects for "Car Poolers" on and and near Highway 85 in Monterrey during the morning commute, typically from 7 to 10 a.m. Recently he chatted with Cities about his process of spying on commuters.

What inspired the project and what message were you trying to get across?

Mainly it was my past projects on Suburbia Mexicana. I was looking for images that would somehow address one of the unintended consequences of Mexico's push to become a country of homeowners. In another sense I hope it shows peoples' endurance and devotion to do jobs that are difficult and that they are doing it because they believe they can prosper. Mexico is in a definite social crisis with all the violence and drug related issues. These images are very inspiring for me.

Car Poolers 12; Car Poolers 38

Why did you select this particular overpass?

Several things. Technically it was the best as it was the highest on south Highway 85, but mainly because the pass is at the entrance of San Pedro Garza Garcia, one of nine cities of Monterrey's metro area and one of the richest cities in Mexico. This was particularly important as I also wanted to visualize the relationship between these suburbanites from the northern middle and low class suburbs going to work in the wealthy suburbs of the south.

Car Poolers 23; Car Poolers 49

Did you ever see the same people?

Yes. I saw several of them in the same truck, in different trucks. Some said hello, some smiled, and some hid their faces. I always went at the same time so I am sure they spotted me.

Car Poolers 3; Car Poolers 1

For more images, check out the gallery's website.

All images: © Alejandro Cartagena. Courtesy Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles.

(H/T Moco Loco)

Keywords: Photographs, Mexico, Commute

Sara Johnson is a fellow at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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