Tijuana’s Flowers of the Rancho

Foto de Gema, una de las "Flores del Rancho", Tijuana, 2010.

“Don’t be fooled por el mito y la leyenda: neither Sin City, nor the happiest place on earth […] Tijuana never stops […] this is why it’s so hard to capture it, and so easy to put labels on it”. Rafa Saavedra, Tijuana makes me happy, 2002.

[audio:https://periferiesurbanes.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/NortecCollective_TIjuanaMakesMeHappy.mp3|titles=Tijuana Makes Me Happy|artists=Nortec Collective]

Our friend Anna BOSCH had been giving a workshop in participatory photography at Rancho Las Flores, a spontaneous settlement in Tijuana: shanties and self-made houses less than 1km from the most frequently crossed international border in the world. Participatory photography (in which Barcelona’s Ruidophoto and CFD had been experimenting since many years) is the experience of teaching photography and providing cameras to people not acquainted with this media; In this way, photography becomes a mirror and a window, as the women (“las Flores”, the flowers) of Tijuana’s Rancho produce images that are both tools for their own collective reflection, and means to communicate their lives and points of view to the outside. In few cities the inhabitants are so heavily influenced by images built from outside: Tijuana is represented alternately as borderland or as “center of the universe”; as a city without law, or as a “perfect place” for US tourists. In this context, producing new images that come from places outside the centers of production of the dominant narratives allows us to explore resistances, to offer new interpretations of the stereotypes, to criticize mainstream images.