Immigrants have fascinating powers. They hold a special sort of enchantment for countless Americans who project onto them centuries of accumulated cultural and racial anxieties along with profound confusion about the nation’s immigration history. They seem to effortlessly turn otherwise decent people into rabid hate-mongers, and inspire linguistic acrobatics that criminalize entire populations of hardworking parents, school children and aspiring college students. By simply existing, they manage to throw our political arena into turmoil every few years. Meanwhile, they still find the time to do Americans’ laundry, pick their crops, build their houses, and raise the next generation of doctors, lawyers and activists. They’re not just foreign, they’re out of this world!
Photographer Dulce Pinzón, a Mexico City native turned New Yorker, has used her artistic lens to capture these superhumans at work. And she frames them in scenes that reflect what she sees as their true superhero character.
Pinzón’s artistic statement for the collection reflects on the idea of the hero in the urban landscape:
After September 11, the notion of the “hero” began to rear its head in the public consciousness more and more frequently. The notion served a necessity in a time of national and global crisis to acknowledge those who showed extraordinary courage or determination in the face of danger, sometimes even sacrificing their lives in an attempt to save others. However, in the whirlwind of journalism surrounding these deservedly front-page disasters and emergencies, it is easy to take for granted the heroes who sacrifice immeasurable life and labor in their day to day lives for the good of others, but do so in a somewhat less spectacular setting.
The Mexican immigrant worker in New York is a perfect example of the hero who has gone unnoticed. It is common for a Mexican worker in New York to work extraordinary hours in extreme conditions for very low wages which are saved at great cost and sacrifice and sent to families and communities in Mexico who rely on them to survive.
The Mexican economy has quietly become dependent on the money sent from workers in the US. Conversely, the US economy has quietly become dependent on the labor of Mexican immigrants. Along with the depth of their sacrifice, it is the quietness of this dependence which makes Mexican immigrant workers a subject of interest.
The principal objective of this series is to pay homage to these brave and determined men and women that somehow manage, without the help of any supernatural power, to withstand extreme conditions of labor in order to help their families and communities survive and prosper.
This project consists of 20 color photographs of Mexican and Latino immigrants dressed in the costumes of popular American and Mexican superheroes. Each photo pictures the worker/superhero in their work environment, and is accompanied by a short text including the worker’s name, their hometown, the number of years they have been working in New York, and the amount of money they send to their families each week.
All photos and captions by Dulce Pinzón. To see the entire collection and learn more about Dulce Pinzón’s work, go to her website.