Labor Movement

CompanyNewsweek and The Daily Beast
PhotographerAlejandro Cartagena
PrizeSilver in Portraiture / Other_P
Entry Description

From his morning-time perch above the southbound lanes of Highway 85 in Monterrey, Mexico, photographer Alejandro Cartagena catches images of people on their way to work. These workers, the photographer says, are on their way from the lower- or middle-class suburbs in the north to more affluent southern regions, where the work is. For Cartagena, the glimpses into these open-air commutes remind him of an earlier time when his grandfather would do something similar. “I had seen the practice and kind of lived it through my grandfather.” Cartagena said. His grandfather was in construction, a team leader. “And he would have guys come to his house, and then they would carpool.” But he also sees these scenes as commentary on the larger issue of urban planning, or a lack thereof, noting that each year Monterrey builds an average of 60,000 new homes, and the construction is going on far from the city center. “It’s just crazy,” he says, “because there’s no public transportation for them to get to the inner cities.” The photos reveal moments that seem almost intimate, as commuters are caught in repose. “For me the images are really attractive, because they speak of something really private,” says Cartagena, who is 34. “What they’re doing is something that is not meant to be seen, but it’s done in a public space.”