Lara Shipley – The Passerby

2021-08-06 – Magazine

Migration, Mexico

In the Sonoran Desert, a vast rural space that bridges the border of the United States and Mexico, people continue to pass through, as they have been doing for thousands of years. They are propelled across its harsh surface by a desire for something greater; a city of gold as seen by Coronado, the infamous Father Kino, or a present-day migrant from Mexico or Central America.

This series looks at migration as an inherently human act, one that has defined human history and the geopolitical geography of our planet. In this series, the desert landscape is a stage for considering the mythology of migration, human expectation, and a history of colonial domination—themes of ongoing national and global relevance, old questions without easy answers.

The photographs focus on a disorienting landscape, where secret movement and quiet violence are masked in hundreds of miles of remote terrain and an increasing military presence seeps into everyday lives. In the scattered towns, whose residents are the heirs to past cycles of movement, only a faint echo can be heard. After decades of lost industry, they too must decide whether to stay or go. Alongside these photographs are images that give evidence to the mass migration, past and present—images of markings and discarded remnants and a collection of historic photographs showing different groups moving through this region.

I am another passerby in this landscape—from a different place, so small and remote, that to stay rooted is to give up on a lot of dreams. To me, the Sonoran is a good spot to consider what compels people to move from one place to another and the universality of dreams that have been defined as “American.”

This article was published in Issue 2, Volume 1 – Home & Migration. 

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