Digital print & collage, 2013

This work is part of The Durazo Series.

In January 1982, 14 mangled corpses were discovered floating in the Rio Tula, north of Mexico City. The mysterious dead men were bank robbers who worked with Arturo Durazo’s Mexico City police department. At some point the police decided that the men that they once worked with should be taken off the streets. They kidnapped them, held them for months, tortured them, killed them, and dumped their bodies in the drainage ditches that flowed into the Rio Tula.

In May of 2013 I went to Rio Tula looking for drainage canal 11, where the bodies were discovered. I had an image in mind of the dry landscape and a small river surrounded by trees that was the setting for the 1980s B-Movie Massacre at Rio Tula. Instead, I was disappointed to find the riverbank had been transformed into a massive water treatment center. The space between my expectations for the site (what I wanted it to be) and what was present, stayed with me.

I always like to think that history leaves a mark in some way, a sort of ‘x marks the spot’ that you can point to and say ‘it happened here’. There was no obvious X at Rio Tula. Only an enormous and ugly retaining wall a mile long, the smell of sewage, trash, bean fields, trees, and a dry riverbed.

The works in the Rio Tula Document series are digital collages of photos that I took documenting my visit to the riverbed.  In these works I reconstruct  Rio Tula as a map of a place as I wanted it to be, without new industrial construction and with a clear ‘x marks the spot’ of drainage canal number 11.

Río Tula Document No. 1, 2013, series of 3, edition of 5, digital prints of collage on map-folded paper, 101 cm x 87 cm.


Río Tula Site Visit, May 2013