“Borderlands, an American Journey”
by Francesco Anselmi
Along a border at the center of the political and journalistic debate, “Borderlands” aims to develop a narration capable of going beyond the emergency perspective under which the US/Mexico border related issues are often presented and to vehicle the complexity of this 3600 kilometers long line that has been crossed by migrants and travelers for decades.
The wall dividing the US and Mexico near Nogales. Arizona. May, 2017.
15th birghday at Colonia La Penita. Colonias are extremely poor communities of Mexican migrants which are born along the border between Texas and Mexico. In these communities the majority of people entered the US illegally and is still without regular papers. La Joya, Texas. April 2017.
An aerostatic balloon, remotely controlled by federal border Patrols and used to intercept illegal activities along the border. Equipped with infrared cameras these devices can track movements at a distance of up to 200 kilometers. Roma, Texas. April 2017.
Felipe and Maria with their son David at Colonia La Penita. Felipe and Maria illegally entered the United States. David, 2 years old, is a US citizen. La Joya, Texas. April, 2017.
Families along the Rio Grande’s delta where Mexican families go to meet their relatives on the US bank of the river. Playa Baghdad. Brownsville, TX. April 2017.
Laine Lawless, right-wing activist, is the leader of the group Border Guardians, a civil militia patrolling the border in order to secure it from smugglers. In the picture she is posing with her assault rifle in her living room. At her feet, the Mexican flag. Phoenix, Arizona. April, 2017.
Christmas decorations. Maricopa, Arizona. Dicembre 2017.
Mexican families during spring break holidays at a motel in South Padre Island, TX.
Immigration related phenomena have been absorbed by the population of border areas and it’s not an exaggeration to say that they contributed to shape the social fabric of these regions; depending on the areas, the solutions to the various issues are extremely different between each others, and can’t certainly be synthesized in the construction of a “wall”.
Church, Casagrande, Arizona, USA. Aprile 2017.
The twin cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, seen from El Paso belvedere. El Paso, Texas. May 2017.
A man claiming to be a “coyote”, in a motel at South Padre Island, Texas, where he’s spending spring holidays with his family. “Coyotes” are the smugglers driving undocumented migrants through the border and are often linked to cartels. South Padre Island. Texas. April 2017.
Motel. Tucson. December 2019
Beauty peagent contest at theTohono O’Odham native reservation. The Tohono O’Odham reservation is located in the Sonoran desert, along the border with Mexico and has been accused of cooperating in human and drug smuggling. with the Mexican cartels. The growing tension between federal authorities and the Native community brought to the creation of two permanent checkpoints to access and exit the natives lands. Sells. Arizona. December 2018.
Environmental activists from Tucson demonstrating against the damages that the consruction of a new section of wall will cause to the local fauna. Lukeville, Arizona. November 2019.
The idea of securing a border by putting up a fence is conceptually misleading as well, as sharp lines of demarcation might deceive about a non-continuity, truth is that border areas between US and Mexico can hardly be considered as parts of the two countries they separate, but have rather become as a country by itself.
A staging of the O.K. Corral gunfight in Tombstone. The gunfight, considered the most famous of the American wild west, happened in 1881 and involved lawmen and outlaws. A local company stage it three times a day, 365 days a year. Tombstone, Arizona, November 2017.
Glenn Spencer, 81, setting up one of his drones. Mr Spencer’s property confines with the Mexican border and his land is often crossed by smugglers. He is developing a technology based on underground sensors capable to send a signal to drones that automatically take off and fly on location to identify the trespassers. Mr Spencer technology is apparently beeing considered by the Trump’s administration as one of the possible solution to border related issues. Sierra Vista, Arizona, November 2017.
Gabriel, 24 years old, with his aunt Marilena, 42 years old. I encountered Gabriel and Marilena while driving on a smuggling road between the US border with Mexico and the town of Arivaca, Arizona. Gabriel and Marilena were severely dehidrated and couldnt move anymore after walking several hours in the desert. They claimed to be part of a group of 8 people that was abandoned by a smuggler in the Sonoran desert. Arivaca, Arizona. May 2017.,
Rodeo. Maricopa, Arizona. December 2017.
Santos, 23, soldier of the gang marasalvatrucha 13, posing in he house of a fellow gangmember. Mara13 is currently the point of reference of Mexican cartels for the distribution of drugs in the States. Santos has been recently released after two years spent in prison for a crime he did not commit. As a matter of fact, it is practice for youth to turn themselves instead of a more important member of the gang. El Paso, Texas. May, 2017.
Ferry on the Rio Grande. Los Ebanos. Texas. October 2019.
A young girl watching the border landscape over Ciudad Juarez from the belvedere of El Paso ,El Paso, TX. May, 2017.
Activists during a demonstration against the construection of a new section of border fence that will cut in half an area sacred to the local native population. Lukeville, Arizona. November 2019.
Born 1984 in Milan, Francesco lives between Italy and the United States. He graduated at The International Center of Photography in NYC receiving the New York Times Foundation Scholarship. His work focuses on social issues and ongoing changes involving the western society, from Europe to the United States of America. In 2012 he started a long term documentation about the consequences of the Greek economical crisis, that led him to receive the Chris Hondros Fellowship Fund in 2013 and the Visura Grant for Outstanding Personal Project in 2016. A selection of his work was screened at Visa Pour L’image 2013/2015/2016/2019 in Perpignan, at Image Singuliere 2014/2022 in Sete, at les rencontre d’Arles 2014/2019 and exhibited at 2014/2018 Lumix Festival for young photojournalism in Hannover, at 2014 Venice Biennal of Architecture, at 2019 Photolux festival in Lucca, Italy, at Museo MAXXI in Rome, Italy and at Base Milano for the “Italian Panorama” exhibition in 2022. Francesco is among the 2014 and 2019 Leica Oskar Barnack Award finalists. In 2019 he received a Visa D’or at Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan, France
Selection by Alejandra Martinez Moreno – Editor/Burn Magazine.