Yael Esteban Martínez Velázquez

6x6 North and Central America Talent:
Yael Martinez, Mexico

“Yael Martinez’s approach to documentary photography is bravely intimate and pushes the boundaries of traditional storytelling practices. For example, Martinez places himself in various photographs, which not only adds an incredibly emotional layer to his work, but also challenges the way we think about documentary photography.” - Danielle Villasana, USA, photojournalist and 6x6 nominator

Yael Martinez explores the connections between poverty and organized crime in his community of Guerrero in southern Mexico. Martínez was a grantee of the Magnum Foundation ‘On Religion’ Grant, was awarded second prize in the Photographic Museum of Humanity’s Grant 2016, and was selected for the World Press Photo Foundation’s global Masterclass in Latin America. He was a finalist for the Eugene Smith memorial grant in 2015 and 2016, and was also nominated for the Paul Huf Award, the Prix Pictet, and the ICP Infinity Awards.

The house that bleeds

“Guerrero is one of the Mexican States that has been most-affected by organized crime; it is the second poorest, and the most violent state in the country. The condition of social and economic marginalization of Guerrero is becoming more evident. The crisis of the rule of law is increasingly alarming and forced disappearances are only one of the symptoms that prove it. Three of my brothers-in-law died; one of them was killed, and the other two disappeared. They used to live in Guerrero, the place where the 43 students disappeared in 2014. After these events I began documenting my family, in order to capture the psychological and emotional breakdown caused by the loss of family members, especially for parents, children, and siblings. I work with the concepts of pain, emptiness, absence, and forgetting.” - Yael Esteban Martínez Velázquez

Their Blood in My Blood

Historically there have been processes of invisibility, concealment and deconstruction of the image of Afro- descendants in Mexico, so it is essential to reconstruct the visual map of the African diaspora in this region and reflect on the discrimination and social injustice that this culture has suffered. During the sixteenth century, there was a large presence of African people brought to Mexico as slaves to work in different areas: mining, livestock, and fishing, among others. In the seventeenth century, the black population exceeded that of the Spanish. Today, around two million people are Afro-descendants. However, there are currently no constitutional rights for the Afro-descendant population.