2017 - 2018
When starting the series titles Wounds Of Violence, I have experimented with a metaphorical representation of violence through photos of landscapes, and nearby residential areas. Meanwhile, almost unconsciously, my own personal experiences made me take pictures of women, who exposed to this environment, but are trying different methods to leave this reality.. After a while, I started concentrating on the issue of contemporary mass graves, because they present an extreme encapsulation of violence in natural lands. I have started looking for open mass graves in Mexico, filled in majority with innocent victims due a very present problem of the country, called forced dissapearence. Huge amount of people are vanished by different forces and due to various interests. In lack of institutional support, these graves are explored by groups formed by locals, who look for their lost loved ones in their free time and by their own resources.
My work continued this theme by focusing on one specific case: the lives of a women's group searching for the remains of their lost loved ones at the sites of mass graves found near Veracruz, Mexico in 2016. These are the largest mass graves found in the history of Mexico, and most likely, in Latin America. This specific search group consists of almost 200 women, working independently to identify the remains. They are self-funded, making the money required by selling food and used clothes.The issues of violence, femininity, and self-help have intertwined in their story, so I have decided to explore their story in a larger depth.
I found a way to contact the head of the group, Lucy, in a local paper. The position of the graves is peculiar: they are not situated in a deserted place, far from houses, but about a 15-minute walk from one of the suburbs of Veracruz, Colinas De Santa Fé. Lucy put me in touch with Celia, who lives in that particular suburb, and spends eight hours of every workday by excavating the graves, with the help of a few other women. Celia welcomed me to her home, we woke up and had coffee together, then walked to the entrance of the graves, watched the sunrise, and met the other members of the group at a designated meeting point. I had not received authorisation, so I was officially unable to enter the site. I was snuck in once with the help of the group.
I focused on getting to know and illustrate their everyday lives by relying on their confessions, emotions, and our shared conversations. Where hope can be found, I felt that this distant reality, could be brought the closest to the spectator in an emotional sense by showing its day-to-day happenings in the most humanistic way possible. Providing this world with faces, emotions, and voices, to show how the survivors feel, live, and think as well as to present an environment outside the statistics and tragedies of newsreel footage.
I first arrived in Veracruz on August 3, 2017, on the one-year anniversary of finding the graves. I worked with the group for another year, until the proposed closing of the site.
There were 731 missing persons registered in the state of Veracruz in 2018. The Colinas de Sante Fé site was fully excavated, with only 16 of the 300 dead bodies identified. There was another mass grave found in Veracruz on September 8, 2018, with the remains of 166 people.
Interwievs: Pedro Omar, Adél Koleszár