New Additions to the AP/RC: Julián Cardona

For three decades Cardona has been documenting and interpreting the social, political and economic trajectories of Ciudad Juarez. The twenty-one artworks acquired by the AP/RC formed the core of a 2013 exhibition and publication, Polvo de estrellas: recuerdos de la Calle Mariscal (Stardust: Memories of the Calle Mariscal). The images, made between 2007 and 2011, reflect on the passing of a neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez that served as an entertainment center for the city and its visitors. A robust nightlife brought locals and tourists to the area’s bars, dance halls, brothels, and lightly disguised drug stops since the 1930s.

In the wake of increasing lawlessness in Juarez during the first decade of the current millennium, city officials began to tear down the Calle Mariscal neighborhood with a hope that its absence might reduce crime and violence. The area, however, formed an important component of Juarez’ personality and its loss received mixed responses.  Cardona’s images marked the transition–the destruction of Calle Mariscal and its subsequent residues.

Cardona, born in 1960 in Zacatecas, Mexico, has lived most of his life in Ciudad Juarez in northern Chihuahua. A self-taught artist, he labored in maquiladoras to save enough money to buy a camera. He then worked as a photojournalist for El Fronterizo and El Diario de Juárez. His photographs  inspired the Aperture book, Juárez: The Laboratory of Our Future (1998) and in 2004 he  received the Cultural Freedom Fellowship Award from the Lannan Foundation.

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