Critical Mass Top 50, 2011

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Michelle Frankfurter

Oaxaca, 2010

Hermanos En El Camino Migrant Shelter, Ixtepec, Oaxaca 2009

Migrant Family, Oaxaca 2010

Salvadoran Migrant, Ixtepec, Oaxaca 2009

Honduran Migrant, Arriaga, Chiapas 2009

Migrants, Orizaba, Veracruz 2010

Migrant Couple, Chiapas, 2009

Home Of Mercy Migrant Shelter, Arriaga, Chiapas 2010

Injured Migrant, San Juan Diego Migrant Shelter, Mexico City 2010

Oaxaca, 2011
Michelle Frankfurter

Destino, meaning both “destination” and “destiny” in Spanish, portrays the perilous journey across Mexico of undocumented Central American migrants as they attempt to enter the United States in pursuit of a better life. An unprecedented wave of Central American migration to the U.S. began in the 1980’s – the consequence of bloody civil wars and relentless poverty. In a wandering odyssey, migrants travel by rail, relying on the network of freight trains inexorably lurching across Mexico. Drawn to the frontier edginess and melancholy of the region, I began photographing along the U.S. – Mexico border in 2000, shortly after reading Cormac McCarthy's, The Crossing. The story has every narrative element that's captivated my imagination since I was about ten years old: a cast of characters that includes sinners, saints and pariahs, an epic journey across a hostile wilderness, a multitude of dangers, themes of salvation and redemption. Victimized both by global economic trade policies that make earning a living wage in their native countries impossible and by a broken immigration policy in the United States, these itinerant Central Americans represent the quintessential underdog. I seek to portray them as individuals who, confronted by extreme circumstances, struggle to control their own destiny, much like the classic antihero protagonists of the adventure tales I grew up reading. Rather than establishing a narrative of hope and optimism circumscribed by a literal chronology, the photographs depict an emotional journey inching towards an uncertain future.