Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Ron Haviv: The Impotence Of Authority
Ron Haviv is the epitome of the modern global photojournalist and one of the founders of VII Photo Agency. Along with his travels to faraway nations, he also documents a war zone that’s much closer to home.
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Family members at the site where a relative was executed.
Those who stay will try to piece together an existence. Juárez is still a big city after all, and the violence hasn't claimed all of it. There's an attempt at normalcy. Despite banning spectators, the mayor's celebratory address was still made, albeit only heard from the safety and relative calm of the people's homes. The bullfights, which are disappearing throughout Spain and other Spanish-speaking nations, thrive in Mexico and the border cities. The nightclubs and stripper bars—hallmarks of many a border town—endure in Juárez. Haviv tells us, "Culture goes on.""
But Haviv worries for this place he has come to know so well since 2010: "If travel stops, if there's a lack of investment, then the state will continue to collapse. It's caught in a downward spiral."
Haviv plans to continue to return to Juárez to document the evolution of the city and the people. In the spring of 2011, he did a piece for ESPN Magazine about a high-school football coach who has built up a successful program and, in doing so, has created a sanctuary of sorts for the athletes. Such success stories are under-reported, which is one of the motivations for Haviv to venture back with his camera. Ritual, culture, despair and horror—"Invisible Lines" and the continuing story are about the people who must survive through this and despite this. The little girl will go to school. The precocious boys will run around under the bridges, except in Juárez, they're trying to get close to another crime scene.
Says Haviv, "It's everywhere in Juárez. Every day, they run a picture of a dead body on the front of the newspaper. It's ingrained into the way people are living. In the first photo in 'Invisible Lines,' a bus drives past another crime scene. It's everywhere—the newspaper, the media, talking to the neighbors. Everyone is being touched by it."
Ron Haviv is one of the founding members of VII Photo Agency. You can see more of his work at www.ronhaviv.com and www.viiphoto.com.
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