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Yael Martinez “La Casa que sangra”

Across Mexico, more than 100,000 people have been categorized as ‘missing’ by official sources. The vast majority of those are believed to be victims of ongoing violence that has claimed more than 250,000 lives since 2006. These disappearances are the source of deep psychological trauma for families left behind.

The violence has its roots in the war on Mexico’s powerful drug cartels instigated by President Calderón and continued by his successor, Peña Nieto. The resulting violence has led to a catastrophic rise in murder rates and in the raising number of unsolved disappearances, supported by corruption and impunity.

Guerrero and Sinaloa are two major Mexican states that are most affected by violence. The crisis of the rule of law is increasingly alarming and enforced disappearances are just one of the symptoms that show it. In 2013, three of my brothers-in-law died; one of them was killed; The other two disappeared. They used to live in Iguala, the place where the Ayotzinapa students disappeared. After these events, I began to document my family and the families of other missing people, in order to capture the psychological and emotional breakdown caused by the loss of family members, especially for parents, children and siblings.

I am looking for social and cultural clues that allow me to create a personal account of the problems that many Mexican families share, and which is one of the causes of the collapse of the social fabric of my country.

With this series, I am trying to represent the relationship of absence and presence and this state of invisibility. I must represent the physical and psychological exhaust that accumulates over time without the slightest response from the authorities, which burdens families with despair and profound emptiness.

Yael Martínez (b. 1984) is a documentary photographer and associate member of Magnum Photos, he is based in Mexico.

Martínez’s work addresses fractured communities in his native Mexico. He often works symbolically to evoke a sense of emptiness, absence, and pain suffered by those affected by organized crime in the region.

He is the recipient of the Eugene Smith Award 2019, was fellow of the Photography and Social Justice Program of The Magnum Foundation. He won the 2nd Prize of the World Press Photo contests 2019 in the category of long-term projects. Martínez was grantee of the Magnum Foundation in the grants: Emergency Fund and On Religion in 2016- 2017.
His work has been featured in group shows in America, Europe, Africa and Asia and published by: The Wall Street Journal,Blomberg news, Lens NY times, Time, Vogue Italy, Vrij Nederland, and Aperture.

2018. Self-portrait of the photographer, Yael Martínez.

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