April 15, 2014

Todd Heisler's Border Vision

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Sometimes what makes a photo great is the information it delivers. Other times, it’s the symbolism. Or the poetry. Or, the curiosity. Why I’ve been admiring Todd Heisler’s border/immigration photo so much is because of the way it does all. Here’s the caption:

In South Texas, the Rio Grande’s twists and turns — at some points 180 degrees — make it very difficult for the United States Border Patrol to monitor for illegal crossings. Here, Texas is on the left and right; Mexico is in the middle.

Sure, this photo toys with metaphors about eyeballs, tear drops and dead ends — about Mexicans imposing themselves on America and the push-pull (Mexicans pushing in, and getting marginalized or stranded, America pushing out: Mexico interposing itself between left and right). Picture after picture, story after story shows us fences and barbed wire, chases and patrols, conveying the most aggressive and polarized landscape. What Heisler offers us is a larger eye – the reality that America and Mexico have a more unusual course and unavoidable interconnection. It’s something we can keep picturing in a typical way. Or, there’s Heisler’s invitation to take a longer and more original view of complex terrain.

Slideshow: A Journey North, From Farther South (NYT)

(photo: Todd Heisler/NY Times)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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