Ciudad Juárez Text by Alfonso Morales.

It was a rainy Sunday afternoon when the photographer went for a stroll down the streets of downtown Ciudad Juárez. This vision of a ghost town prevailed upon her after transiting among “stony rubbish,” empty chambers, orphaned objects, and broken glass. She was aware of a decay that synthesized all that Ciudad Juárez had lost as a historic memory and inhabitable space. She intuited that even the days of these remains were numbered. She then began to build the rudiments of an emotional archeology that took it upon itself to recover the aura, animus, or breath of absent people, parting from a registry of abandoned objects and spaces.

Ciudad Juárez, a collection of images captured from 2004 to 2007, is the result of Mayra Martell’s initial approach to the absences and disappearances of her native city. To date, her investigation continues, one she has extended to other urban centers and regions and is, in the end, a reflection regarding the social significance of memory and of the latter as a source of identity. In her concept of documentary photography—and of an edition that makes it explicit and empowers it as a narrative discourse—aftertastes can act as recollections, but also as premonitions. For Mayra Martell, a talented photographer who also knows how to listen to the murmuring of words and call upon images through the use of literary resources, these domestic ruins and traces of missing persons do more than confirm our helplessness before the powerful forces that determine the course of history. They also prove our capacity to resist and remain. If we were to read backwards the tale that led to those uninhabited spaces, we would find a palpitating world in which manikins are not the only ones who know how to sport bridal gowns and leather jackets.

Alfonso Morales Carrillo