Walking Juárez – Photographs by Bruce Berman

 

 

 


 


 

Walking Juárez

Photographs by Bruce Berman

Artist Statement

The work in this exhibit is a small collection from my new book, Walking Juárez. The book is a compilation of photographs and stories collected over the period of time from 1975-2017.

I live in El Paso, three blocks from Juárez, México. I moved there in 1980 and have, primarily, looked south ever since. The work in this show –and in my book- depicts my experiences while walking in Juárez.

In 1980, I wrote in my journal, after my first walk in the borderlands of El Paso/Juárez, “…I have seen a new world. It is both physical fact and myth. It is a place with a line drawn through it and on each side of that line there are metaphoric mirrors that reflect back at each other, distorting each other. It is the USA/Mexican border and I am going to make my stand here.”

I set out to tell the truth of a place. Maybe I did that a little, but in the end –and I think it is part of what photography is all about- I found out about me, a lot. Living and working in a place so opposite of the United States, I knew I was into something entirely different than what I had known before, from my roots in Chicago, and I immediately realized I didn’t belong there, and, that’s where I wanted to be.

So, how do you start? How do you dig out the soul of a place?

You walk.

I walked as softly as I could and just worked with anyone that would “take me.” The work in this exhibit is that: moments of time where the borderlands and I have come together. It’s about experience in search of meaning.

Every time I work in Juárez is kind of like surfing, paddling out, getting on the board and just riding each crazy wave until it dumps me or I land near shore.”

My hope is that others experience the heart of Juárez and the borderlands through these images.

Biography

Bruce Berman has been a professional photographer for over four decades. He has always worked in what some call, “The Concerned Photographer,” style of photography. His initial documentary projects were in Chicago where he photographed Appalachian migrants to the big city, Black Panthers during the tumultuous 1960’s and the gritty street life of Chicago in its Rust Belt years.

His main work has concentrated on the United States/Mexico border, particularly the narrow stretch of land that encompasses El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico.

After coming back from his earliest foray on Alameda Street on El Paso’s south side, in 1980, Berman wrote in his journal, “…I have seen a new world. It is both physical fact and myth. It is a place with a line drawn through it and on each side of that line there are metaphoric mirrors that reflect back at each other, distorting each other. It is the USA/Mexican border and I am going to make my stand here.”

The aggregate result of that effort resides in three main bodies of work:  The Border Project: 1985-2007, Aftermath: Cartel War Years (2007-2011) and Walking Juárez, 1975-present.

Berman lives and works deep in the borderlands of El Paso/Juárez, three blocks from the international bridge that connects them. He has only one window and it looks out south, to Juárez, to México, toward the southern part of the hemisphere. He continues to cover his “beat,”for himself and major publications throughout the world.

In addition to being a professional photographer, since 2008 he has taught photojournalism at New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces, New Mexico, 47 miles north of the border. His teaching concentration is in Documentary Photojournalism.

Living on the border with all of its many riddles, conflicts, dualities, hopes and aspirations has been perfect preparation for balancing these two missions. He considers it a border project.

The show will open on Friday, May 5th with an artists reception from 6 pm – 8:15 pm and will run until May 30, 2017.