“Las Otras Battallas” at Centennial Museum

Last week, the Centennial Museum on the UTEP campus opened a show which afforded El Pasoans who are uncomfortable visiting Juarez to see the show of El Diario photography called “Las Otras Batallas” which had first been shown at the Centro Cultural Paso del Norte. A small selection of these photos has already been hung at the Union gallery, but this is apparently the full 72 photo show. I haven’t yet seen it hung at the Centennial Museum, but I saw it at CCPN, and although, like last year’s show, it is a selection of photographs from the past year, the general theme focused on the survivors of violence-the relatives and friends who must carry on with their lives after a loved one is murdered. For obvious reasons, there are a fair number of photos from the funeral for victims of the massacre at Villas Salvacar, but it is by no means limited to that , and not all of the photos are of tragedy. There is also a photo from a mass wedding including a 20 something couple and a couple in their 80’s who after decades of living together finally got married.
The majority, of course, focuses on the aftereffects of the violence which has affected everyone in this city. there is an immediacy to these photos- perhaps inherent in a situation in which photographers from Juarez  daily and, at great risk to themselves, go into the streets to record what goes on in this city. There is an awareness that in these images, these photographers are recording their own neighbors; their own streets even if they do not personally know the people involved. There is less focus on the violent event itself, but on images reflecting on the violent event. , In some cases these create more powerful images than a dismembered corpse. I’m thinking of the large photo  of one blood-stained sneaker belonging to an 8-year-old who had been riding in a car attacked by hitmen, or a young girl purposefully striding on a wooden leg, or grieving friends at a funeral.  Included are photos by recently assassinated photographer Luis Carrillo. This is a powerful and necessary show for anyone interested in a glimpse into a part of daily life taken by those who daily live it. It will be up through January.-David Sokolec

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