Mexican Shoppers

Ingrid Leyva

2017 - Ongoing

In this project, I have been portraying the Mexican Shoppers in their way back to Mexico after shopping in the United States. The portraits are made in the middle of the bridges with the most flow of pedestrian traffic between these Countries which are located in the El Paso – Cd. Juarez border, where I am from, and the San Ysidro – Tijuana border.

When I was little, and while growing up in Cd. Juarez, I remember that my mother used to work hard during the week, so we could go shopping to El Paso on the weekends, visit our family, or attend to different cultural events. We, the people from the border, are connected among each other in many complex ways that are hard to portray.

But two years ago, when Trump was the candidate for the presidency and I was starting to live here in El Paso, I found myself lost, trying to understand what was happening and at the same time trying to define my own identity, so I grabbed the camera to create a photo-diary of the border. During those days, when I was waiting at a bus station to go to Juarez, I saw this lady that was carrying lots of bags and I asked her If she was carrying all of that by herself, she told me that that was nothing! That she usually carries more shopping bags and then crosses everything back and takes them all the way to Zacatecas, which is a state in Mexico that is 13 hours away from here. That amazed me, so I took her a portrait for my diary. Moments later, I found myself crossing the bridge back to Juarez, and there is where I started noticing that most of the people crossing back were carrying shopping bags. This is when I noticed a traditional dynamic from this border that I never saw before. I instantly started portraying them and honestly I didn’t think about doing it again, but somehow I couldn’t stop, so after two years I have this project where I have been constructing a collective portrait of the Mexican Shoppers.

My purpose is to keep highlighting this resilient community in all the U.S. - Mexican border. In this way, I would love to contribute in changing the narratives of this place and pay respects to the people like me, who have the strength to cross back and forth between Countries, and cross over and over and go through a long and hostile revision process as if we were terrorists when sometimes all we want it's just to go shopping and live in peace.

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