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Monday arts pick: Photographer Alejandro Cartagena

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Mexico’s growing middle class and the country’s  burgeoning urbanization has resulted in a building boom, with new housing developments and suburbs cropping up.

Photographer Alejandro Cartagena has trained his lens on all the urban/suburban growth and the ways in which it has altered the landscape and affected the lives of people living in the changing cities.

Cartagena gives a lecture about his work Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Ransom Center. The event is free. www.hrc.utexas.edu

Cartagena’s series “Suburbia Mexicana Project” captures in neat geometric precision rows of cookie-cutter identical houses lining newly-created streets — new suburban neighborhoods that push the boundaries of Northern Mexican cities such as Monterrey and Saltillo ever wider.

For his much acclaimed “Car Poolers” series Cartegena positioned himself on a pedestrian bridge over a highway in his hometown of Monterrey, capturing the legions of constructions day laborers, who pile in the back of pick-up trucks each morning as they travel to their job sites on the edges of the city.

At once voyeuristic and also intimate, though they’re captured in a fleeting second, Cartegena’s “Car Poolers” images read like carefully composed still lifes.

“Mexico is a tough place, and these guys are staying honest and legit; that’s something to admire,” Cartagena told an interviewer recently.

Cartegena says his photos offer a way to “reflect on how we’ve built our city and how in return it builds who we are and how we interact with it.”

http://alejandrocartagena.com/