Herrera-Prats
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REMESAS – Sending Money Back - Hudson 12534

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In 2003 I started photographing establishments that provide money-transfer services, from barbershops and shoe stores to businesses specializing exclusively in check-cashing and money transferring. I am interested in the physicality of these places where, among other things, the second largest source of foreign income to Mexico is transacted. I have amassed an extensive archive of these pictures, with each one containing the store location and the name of the few source companies that collect fees charged for each money transaction (such as Western Union or Money Gram).

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At Incident Report, slides of money-transfer business (including banks) established at Hudson are displayed. A drawing locating these businesses in 2010 and a neon sign accompany these slides.

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I photograph these places with a 35 mm camera as they are about to open in the morning. Their closed facades call attention to the shapes of the buildings as well as their signage. My collection is organized by date and location. I group together all the businesses I can photograph in one morning according to their proximity to one another. This classification allows me to compare neighborhoods based on the density of migrant populations since, often, these stores are located where foreign workers live or work. The proliferation of these types of businesses speaks about the condition of our global economy, where migration towards the North, specifically towards the US, increases yearly. Though commercial agreements, such as NAFTA, allow for a cheaper and frequent exchange of capital and goods, human mobility is still restricted, even if obscurely supported. Undocumented workers in the US, sending money back to their countries of origin, are forced to pay expensive fees because they are denied the possibility of opening bank accounts. Language boundaries reshape the locations that I shoot into gathering points where workers who had recently arrived might connect with peers with whom they can identify. By focusing on the buildings as opposed to their users, I try to respect the anonymity forced on to immigrants due to their legal status in this country.

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Carla Herrera-Prats received her BFA at “La Esmeralda,” in Mexico City, MFA at CalArts, and was a participant at the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York. She was co-director of the gallery Acceso A in Mexico City and is part of the collaborative CAMEL. Herrera-Prats has shown her work in venues such as Centro de la Imagen, Museo Dolores Olmedo, Centre Vu, Artists Space, Art in General and The Contemporary Museum, Baltimore. Herrera-Prats was a Visiting Lecturer at SMFA in Boston, the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University, CalArts and currently she teaches at the Cooper Union.