Artist: Mark Powell
Tlatelolco edition, 2008
25 digital photographs
Courtesy the artist
Over the course of several months, photographer Mark Powell spent time at Tlatelolco getting to know its inhabitants and photographing the area. He has produced images of the homes, the families, the shops, and the recreational activities that form a part of this community. The photographs document the proximity to this community and the trust he was able to develop with it, culminating in an intimate series of portraits of how this housing complex is currently lived in. The project critiques the notions of this site as a failed utopian living experiment by investigating the ways in which its current population continues to adapt this space to their individual needs, imaginations, and ambitions.
The project’s goal is to collect a series of photographs that depict narratives of the Tlatelolco neighborhood and how it is lived today. While still being aware of the historical significance and trauma the neighborhood experienced during the October 2nd, 1968 shootings, it is now an important time to step slightly aside from this memory and see how this utopian modernist dream is working today.
As a photographer from Detroit, I am fully aware how utopian visions of a city and neighborhoods can sometimes be depicted because of their failures. There always exists the temptation and rigid curiosity to romanticize the past through urban abandonment, crime and dysfunctional dead ends where ambitious dreams were never realized. Yet, through certain defined failures, one can come to understand the terms of failure simply as change. In my own photographic work, it is always more interesting to see how people have evolved and adapted in found imaginative spirit – and in the Tlatelolco case, the spirit is allowed to stray from the original utopian goal in unexpected and creative ways.
I would like to portray living interiors, formal sittings, interesting backgrounds, shops, restaurants, people going to work, coming home etc, all with the intent to react and depict, letting a natural photographic reality develop. It is hoped that these photographic narratives will shed new light on the imaginative structure of the Tlatelolco neighborhood. This will be achieved not only through my own photography, but an organized workshop to be conducted in a cultural center in Tlatelolco. I would also like to gather a body of work from students taking the workshop to explore their own voice and reactions regarding their neighborhood.