Y que me traigan a ti

Martha Naranjo Sandoval

2014 - Ongoing

I’ve been living for seven years in a land that is not mine and I still feel like I’m nowhere close to have arrived on it.

When I talk about Mexico City I refer to it as the best city on earth. People unavoidably ask why I moved from it then. I might seem like an innocent enough question, people who ask it don’t seem to realize the magnitude of what they are actually questioning. With these images I try to express how I feel when I am asked why I moved here.

Why did I come here, you ask? And that is the migrant’s trap, we are expected to have a reason enough to have left. The reasons are innumerable and at the same time they don’t matter. What is true is that you never quite arrive, you are always arriving. You settle in alien land and you start to see it as familiar. I live in a nice apartment filled with Mexican plants, dried chilis, and different kinds of oregano. I share this apartment with a cat that was borned in Brooklyn and a husband whose childhood is missing a lot of the references I share with Mexicans my age.

Every year that passes I feel less than me and more like a foreigner. Here in Brooklyn, New York, my new home, I will never just be a woman but a Mexican woman, a latina, a woman of color, an immigrant, an other. This even follows me when I go back to Mexico City. Not even there am I just being. I now forget how to say some things in Spanish and I feel ashamed to have to say them in English. I’m a tourist in my own land.

My dad took a lot of pictures of me growing up. When I moved to the US away from my family, it became evident that if I wanted a family album I would have to take the pictures myself. I had recently lost years of my life to a defective Hard Drive so I started to take analog pictures of my daily life. I’ve documented my life since 2014 in a collection that will go on until I am able to keep it going. I’ve used the same camera and same type of roll since I started this project, now titled 35mm Diary. As of January 2021 more than three hundred rolls are part of this collection, neatly organized by date.

I initially started this project for myself to have something to remember different times of my life. I am an immigrant so the impermanence of homes is not lost on me. I decided to open these photographs to the public because I collect stranger’s family pictures and use them in my practice. It felt fair to expose my own intimacy if I was showing someone else’s.

Family pictures create communal spaces. I remember when a family member would invite us over for a carrousel viewing of an event or when someone would bring out an album as a means of reminiscing. In the ideal circumstances, I would like to host viewings in which people would flip through stacks of pictures and pass them around. But since the current situation makes this tricky, I have been selecting one picture from this project every week and mailing it as a postcard to five different people every time. I want to invite the audience to view them and create a new communal space that provides for them.

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  • Dylan, Pátzcuaro, November 2019.

  • Martha and Dylan, Brooklyn, December 2017.

  • Martha, Brooklyn, August 2016.

  • Brooklyn, October 2020.

  • Martha, Brooklyn, July 2020.

  • Brooklyn, May 2020.

  • Brooklyn, December 2020.

  • Brooklyn, March 2021.

  • Ofelia and Alejandro, Atizapán, July 2015.

  • Dylan and Martha, Brooklyn, July 2018.

  • Brooklyn, June 2018.

  • Martha, Brooklyn, July 2020.

  • Mexico City, April 2018.

  • Brooklyn, September 2020.

  • Ofelia, Alejandro, Leonel, and Ofe; Atizapán, December 2018.

  • Martha, Brooklyn, December 2017.

  • Martha, Brooklyn, October 2019.

  • Mexico City, November 2019.

  • Dylan, Brooklyn, February 2020.

  • Manhattan, September 2014.