This long term project documents cultural activities in what used to be some of the worlds most dangerous cities along the US/Mexican border. I photographed artists along the entire 2000 miles long divide to show the vibrant cultural side of a region that is usually portrayed by the international media with the sole focus on violent crime. The high security steel fence erected by the US over most of the 2000 miles long border did its part to create a physiological and physical barrier. This had particular significance to me ever since I moved to New York – probably because I am German and because I have lived with a wall dividing Berlin and my country until 1989.

Artists are the pulse of a society and I believe if we ignore the cultural side of troubled places, we will soon stop caring about themall together. I met with both internationally renowned as well as only locally known artists. It was not about the value of their art in the eyes of the art market, but about the value and positive impact of the often highly visible creations and activities on their communities.

This project was funded with a grant from German foundation ‘Kulturwerk der VG BILD-KUNST’ and individual donations. So far I have photographed over 170 artists and art promoters in all major Mexican cities along the border and I am hoping that it will help to put a spotlight on the vibrant cultural life in a region the outside world knows very little about.

– Stefan Falke

  Stefan Falke

Stefan Falke was born in Paderborn, Germany, in 1956. He now lives in Brooklyn, NY, and photographs stories and portraits for magazines and movie stills for film studios. His last long term project 'MOKO JUMBIES: The dancing Spirits of Trinidad' resulted in a book of the same title.

Falke joined the prestigious German photo agency laif in 1999. His current long term project La Frontera is ongoing.