- PhMuseum 2022 Photography Grant
Por Aquí Todo Bien
Dates2018 - Ongoing
- Locations Honduras, San Pedro Sula
Gangs act as the de facto governing authority in places like Rivera Hernandez, a labyrinthine expanse in the outskirts of San Pedro Sula, Honduras' industrial capital. They label areas with numbers or letters, drawing imaginary borders between the communities.
Governments, usually for Political gain, define Central American gangs, such as La Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) or the Barrio 18, as transnational criminal organizations with sophisticated structures, comparing them to drug cartels or mafias.
But while mafias and cartels rely on heavily centralized hierarchical systems, the anatomy of these gangs is highly decentralized. They operate independently with neighborhood-level groups. Their main activities revolve around drug dealing and extortion of residents and businesses, often deploying spectacular levels of violence to build their reputation. But beyond these fearsome tactics lies a loosely organized structure of youths ruling over low-income communities.
In 2018 the photographer established a relationship with teenagers in an 18th Street gang-controlled area. They are made into members, lookouts, civilians, and eventually, old friends who grew up together. Throughout a series of shared experiences and by confronting each other's belief system, both the photographer and the group lived a process of mutual understanding. This exchange, over the years, has built up a bond of mutual trust and emotional intimacy, leading to the creation of a collaborative project.
The resulting series avoids describing the physical details of the subjects' lives, opting for a visual translation of their emotional reality instead. They confront the loss of their friends, a conflicted sense of good and evil as the environment melts their fears and hopes for the future.
"Por Aquí Todo Bien" (translated: all good around here) questions the personal experience of a group of young men as they play with fire and dive into dark waters, all the while still looking at the moon.