New UT Arlington exhibit offers gripping look at 'Life and Death in The Northern Pass'
“There are two ways of thinking about living here; either you go on
every day and when it’s your turn to die you die, or you live every day
Daniel Gonzalez, 26, former Ciudad Juárez resident
Daniel Gonzalez echoes the sentiments of thousands of others living in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, arguably the most violent city in the world. Historically known as El Paso del Norte or The Northern Pass, the city of 1.5 million saw more than 3,000 murders in 2010 — more than were killed in the entire country of Afghanistan during that same year, according to the U.S. and Mexican government.
Most victims were innocent bystanders gunned down by ruthless drug cartels. Some of the attacks were carried out on city buses as factory workers headed home after a long day on the job. Other attacks targeted lovebirds on a date and birthday celebrations.
Dominic Bracco II, a distinguished photojournalist and 2008 graduate of The University of Texas at Arlington, has documented the horrors of Mexico's drug war through evocative images of violence and its aftermath, of grieving families and tender scenes of day-to-day urban life. His photos are the heart of a new exhibit, “Life and Death in The Northern Pass,” which opens Aug. 15 and runs through Jan. 14, 2012 in the UT Arlington Central Library’s Sixth Floor Parlor, 702 Planetarium Place.
Chris Conway, coordinator of the exhibit and an associate professor of modern languages, called Bracco’s work astonishingly brave and illuminating photojournalism.
“Dominic is reporting from the front lines of a devastating war that is occurring at our very doorstep, and his work can help us understand its impact on Mexico and the United States,” said Conway, who was one of Bracco’s professors. “His photography attests to a phenomenal ability to gain the trust of his subjects, regardless of whether they are gang members, children, or the grieving parents of a murder victim.”
The exhibit is the first in a series of fall events focused on “The War Next Door: Narco-Violence and the U.S. Mexico Border.” All events are free and open to the public.
Bracco earned his undergraduate degrees in journalism and Spanish literature. While at the University, he also served as a photographer for the student newspaper, The Shorthorn. He returns to the campus for a lecture Sept. 28, when he will speak to students, faculty and staff about his work and experiences.
“In many ways my time at UT Arlington shaped my ambitions for this project,” Bracco said. “UT Arlington is a diverse campus, and because it opened my eyes to other cultures, I was better suited to work in a country that is not my own.”
Bracco’s photographs have been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times and several other prominent publications.
He recently received special funding from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to produce a video in Ciudad Juárez related to his ongoing project, “Life and Death in The Northern Pass.”
Bracco said he hopes the exhibit will show patrons, particularly students, how the war in Mexico is affecting all people.
“Thousands of innocent people have died because of the current state of anarchy and the failed policies of both the United States and Mexican governments,” he said, adding: “My hope is that the next generation of students will make enough noise to push politicians and change the culture of indifference.”
THE WAR NEXT DOOR
The “Life and Death in the Northern Pass” exhibit kicks off a series of events scheduled this fall at UT Arlington as part of “The War Next Door: Narco-Violence and the U.S. Mexico Border.”
- Noon Sept. 28, 2011 - Dominic Bracco II will discuss his work documenting the effects of Mexican and North American policies on the border region where he was raised. His talk, “The Lost Generation: Globalization, Youth Culture and Violence in Ciudad Juárez,” will be held in the UT Arlington Central Library, 6th Floor Atrium.
- 7 p.m. Oct. 21 - John Burnett, an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist for National Public Radio, speaks about “The War Next Door” in the library’s Sixth Floor atrium. Burnett has spent much of his career producing investigative reports from the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he reported from New York City, Pakistan and Afghanistan. His reporting contributed to coverage that won the Overseas Press Club Award and an Alfred I. DuPont Columbia University Award.
- 7 p.m. Nov. 4 - Shaul Schwarz, an award-winning photographer and filmmaker, presents “The Making of Narco Culture: A Conversation with Shaul Schwarz” in University Hall Room 108, 601 S. Nedderman Drive. Schwarz, a Time magazine contract photographer, has written about his experience documenting years of drug-related violence in Mexico. His work has appeared in major publications such as National Geographic, The New York Times Magazine and Paris Match.
- 12:30 p.m. Nov. 9 - David Taylor, a photographer, teacher and Guggenheim fellow based in Las Cruces, New Mexico, presents “Working on the Line: Physical, Social and Political Topography of the U.S.-Mexico Border” in UT Arlington Fine Arts Building Room 148, 700 Greek Row Drive. Taylor’s project, “Working the Line,” has led to encounters with migrants, smugglers, Border Patrol agents, minutemen and local residents of borderlands, as he captured border images from the El Paso-Juárez region to the land between Tijuana and San Diego.
“The War Next Door: Narco-Violence and the U.S. Mexico Border” is presented by the UT Arlington Library, Graduate School, College of Liberal Arts, Department of Modern Languages, Center for Southwestern Studies, Department of Communication, The Charles T. McDowell Center for Critical Languages and Area Studies, Center for Mexican American Studies, Department of Theater Arts, Department of Art and Art History, The Dallas Morning News Photography Department, The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting (Washington, D.C.) and Carbón4 (Mexico City).
Dominic Bracco’s lecture is part of UT Arlington’s annual Festival of Ideas, which was founded in 2005 by alumnus Mustaque Ahmed (’81). The festival highlights research into global cultural and intellectual issues, integrating the scholarship and creative activity of UT Arlington’s faculty and graduate students with insights gained from presentations by renowned experts.
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