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US Mexico Border Photography, By Kyla Lackie

Odegaard Undergraduate Library and Commons

October � December 2008
first floor entrance display area

My photographs are about a journey. They show my experiences on either side of the border wall, in the footsteps of migrants and in the tire tracks of the border patrol. After journeying to the borderline hundreds of times over several years, I found each experience different and profound. The border has become a spiritual place for me and has made abstract issues very real. Dry and dusty, this empty space is occasionally interrupted by remnants of those who have passed before- footsteps, a dead animal, old clothing. I photograph to document and concretize, to try to make sense for myself and to help others see some of the realities we must face.


I began journeying to the US Mexico borderlands during high school trips with Esperanza International. We worked with families to build homes and community in Tijuana, Mexico. Each year, we would travel along the border and hear personal stories about the impact of the border and US immigration policies. Frustration, confusion and anger were my first reactions to the wall and also the source of my attraction to this place. I always looked forward to the night at the border, knowing that each year would challenge or change me in a new way.

While studying at the University of San Diego, the proximity of the border required me to interact and explore further. After several years and a variety of experiences, I reached a more complex understanding of the border and developed an appreciation for this place- unlike anywhere else I have been.

When I began photographing the border, I was interested in the place, the environment, and in exploring the surroundings. I went in the afternoon or early morning and photograph for several hours at a time. I was able to develop a fuller understanding of the border just by walking around the place and feeling the heat and observing people. I began participating in various protests and border activism groups and began to develop relationships with people based on our interests in border issues.

My time at the border has allowed me to process my thoughts and has given me a glimpse of what it would be like to walk along these paths. I always discover something new just by spending time walking along the wall. Photographing the landscape allowed me to observe what remains as life passes through. The various remnants I found along the way, an apple, shoe, plastic bottle, were evidence of the highly populated yet deserted land. The border is a bizarre combination of melding and conflict between people and things, all of which are reflected in the manipulation and reaction of the landscape.

Email Kyla at borderphotography@gmail.com