Pablo Ortiz Monasterio
Pablo Ortiz Monasterio is considered one of the most influential and active figures in contemporary photography in Mexico. In 1994, he founded the Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City, an important venue for the education, discussion and promotion of photography in Mexico. This includes extensive educational programs in photography in Mexico City and throughout the country as well as exhibition projects, including the Bienal de Fotografia and Fotoseptiembre.
Monasterio was born in Mexico City in 1952 and would go on to study economics at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico and photography at the London College of Printing in England. He received his masters degree in photography at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in 1984. He has served as an editor on various book projects, including Mexico y Indígena, as well as the periodicals Río de Luz and Luna Córnea.
In 1995, Monasterio published La Última Ciudad – The Last City, a kaleidoscope of dynamic, dramatic black and white street photographs of Mexico City that evoke an apocalyptic atmosphere of an immense metropolis ravaged by poverty, crime and the ill-effects of overpopulation.
In the mid eighties I decided to photograph Mexico City. I was born there but it is so enormous that you never get to know it all. With the map, I planned a route to go to all the areas of this mega city. The idea was to experience immensity of the place. By the time I finished my project the city had grown by three million. My subject was an ever changing monster full of energy, made of human beings struggling to survive and have a good life. I was walking around a working class area (in Mexico that means very poor). There were some small kids playing ball in the street. I took photographs of them and one of the kids asked me what I was photographing. I told him “the energy of the city”. He immediately asked me if I wanted to photograph his older brother. We walked down from the main street through a tough neighborhood. After a few minutes we arrived at a dead end street. There was graffiti on the walls and a bunch of youngsters smoking dope and drinking beer. For a moment, I did not know how they were going to react with me and the camera. One of them looked at me and jumped towards us. The image was wonderful and I clicked away without thinking about it. By his face I could tell that enjoyed my reaction but he said it was dangerous to take pictures around there. We did some talking and then he let me take some more pictures. When I processed the film, I found the present that the little boy offered me that day. His older brother embodied the energy of the city I was looking for.
All photographs © Pablo Ortiz Monasterio