The Backpackers/Los Mochileros

PhotographerPetra Barth
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

While I have been documenting communities in the Americas with the focus at human, social and environmental issues for the last ten years, my interest grew in the border area, which divides Mexico and the US. For the past ten years, I have focused on documenting the human, social and environmental issues that faced the Americas. I found myself especially drawn to the plight of immigrants in the border area, which divides Mexico and the United States. Of all the borders dividing these two countries, Nogales has seen the largest number of undocumented migrants during the last decade, and had the greatest number of recovered remains of migrants who perished in extreme condition in the desert of Southern Arizona. Over the last three years, I have photographed migrants on both sides of the border. I followed deported migrants as well as migrants who tried to cross the border to either find work, or to reunite with their families who already live in the US. I focused those who were deported to Mexico by the border patrol. My intention was to put a face to the numerous tragic events that they endured. I strongly believe that our collective responsibility as human beings is to treat each other with respect and empathy, and to look closely before we judge. Migrants are people like all of us with an individual story and the wish for a better life. Instead of showing the migrants on their respective routes, I portrayed everyone in the same way, so that the environment is less distracting, and the visual content becomes more powerful. The images should evoke emotion and show how our perception changes, depending of the context in which we look them. The repetition of the portraits shows how our impression varies depending of the visual display. The interviews are placed randomly in between. In my photographs, I am interested in transitory and intuitive moments and the subtleties of the overall scene. My goal is to create or capture an emotional connection with the viewer so that through the esthetic, the content of the images becomes more powerful as you become more intimately involved with the photograph.

Story

While I have been documenting communities in the Americas with the focus at human, social and environmental issues for the last ten years, my interest grew in the border area, which divides Mexico and the US. For the past ten years, I have focused on documenting the human, social and environmental issues that faced the Americas. I found myself especially drawn to the plight of immigrants in the border area, which divides Mexico and the United States. Of all the borders dividing these two countries, Nogales has seen the largest number of undocumented migrants during the last decade, and had the greatest number of recovered remains of migrants who perished in extreme condition in the desert of Southern Arizona. Over the last three years, I have photographed migrants on both sides of the border. I followed deported migrants as well as migrants who tried to cross the border to either find work, or to reunite with their families who already live in the US. I focused those who were deported to Mexico by the border patrol. My intention was to put a face to the numerous tragic events that they endured. I strongly believe that our collective responsibility as human beings is to treat each other with respect and empathy, and to look closely before we judge. Migrants are people like all of us with an individual story and the wish for a better life. Instead of showing the migrants on their respective routes, I portrayed everyone in the same way, so that the environment is less distracting, and the visual content becomes more powerful. The images should evoke emotion and show how our perception changes, depending of the context in which we look them. The repetition of the portraits shows how our impression varies depending of the visual display. The interviews are placed randomly in between. In my photographs, I am interested in transitory and intuitive moments and the subtleties of the overall scene. My goal is to create or capture an emotional connection with the viewer so that through the esthetic, the content of the images becomes more powerful as you become more intimately involved with the photograph.

About Photographer

Petra Barth, born in Germany, originally studied Fashion Design in Milan. Following a lifetime passion, she became a full time freelance photographer in 1999. She studied at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and took several workshops, lead by Gary Knight and Antonin Kratochvil from the VII Photo agency, which changed her perspective on photography. Working globally, she has focused on human and social aspects in rural communities. Her special interest lies in women and children. For over eight years she has photographed in South and Central America, covering local culture, poverty, human rights, and natural disaster. She works with the Duke Human Rights Center as well worked in the past with the IACHR Inter-American Center of Human Rights. Her work has been exhibited, in several group and solo exhibitions in the United States and Europe. In 2004, she moved with her three children to the United States, where she lives and works in Washington DC.