Santiago Arau. Territorios

Santiago Arau, Puebla desde el Iztaccíhuatl, 2019, color digital print, image courtesy of Museo Amparo
Santiago Arau, Puebla desde el Iztaccíhuatl, 2016, color digital print, image courtesy of Museo Amparo

For seven years, a man explored the length, width, and height of the territory of Mexico. He traveled 33,302 kilometers, documenting the borders, cities, mountains, and volcanoes that shape the country. The explorer, Santiago Arau, is a photographer and filmmaker whose project, Territorios, is the subject of an exhibition at the Museo Amparo in Puebla.

El Museo Amparo is one of Mexico’s most important museums, with pre-Hispanic, colonial, and contemporary art ranging from 2,400 BCE to the present. Its collections and exhibitions represent 4,400 years of history and artistic production. In Territorios, Santiago Arau represents indistinct political, social, and ecological features of the country’s landscapes.

  

Santiago Arau. Territorios, installation view at Museo Amparo, Puebla, 2020, image courtesy of Museo Amparo
Santiago Arau. Territorios, installation view at Museo Amparo, Puebla, 2020, image courtesy of Museo Amparo

The exhibition comprises 118 photographs from different regions, with texts from essays in a publication of the Territorios project. There are four main themes – volcanoes, cities, borders, and biodiversity – as well as pyramids and the historical past.

  

Volcanes / Volcanos

Santiago Arau, Popocatépetl, Enero, 2020, color digital print, image courtesy of Museo Amparo
Santiago Arau, Popocatépetl, Enero, 2020, color digital print, image courtesy of Museo Amparo

“Qué sería de nuestra identidad, si es que nuestra identidad como mexicanos realmente existe, sin los volcanes?  /  What would become of our identity, if our identity as Mexicans truly exists, without volcanoes?”  – Pablo Soler Frost

  

Ciudad / City

Santiago Arau, Mexcaltitán, Nayarit, 2019, color digital print, image courtesy of Museo Amparo
Santiago Arau, Mexcaltitán, Nayarit, 2019, color digital print, image courtesy of Museo Amparo

“Quizá las ciudades sean sólo eso: territorios amurallados donde nos refugiamos de la inmensidad del mundo natural.  /  Perhaps cities are just this: fortified territories where we seek refuge from the immensity of the natural world.”  – Vivian Abenshushan

  

Fronteras / Borders

Santiago Arau, Nogales, Sonora, 2018, color digital print
Santiago Arau, Nogales, Sonora, 2018, color digital print

“En la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México existe un muro con una extensión de 1,126 kilómetros que pasa por el Desierto de Sonora. Y más hacia el este hay estructuras de acero pesadas que cortan los largos kilómetros de extensiones de hierba como las marcas de un campo de batalla.  /  On the border between the United States and Mexico there is a 1,126 kilometer long wall that runs through the Sonoran Desert. To the east there are heavy steel structures that cut through the long expanses of grass like the marks of a battlefield.”  – Vivian Abenshushan

  

Biodiversidad / Biodiversity

Santiago Arau, Huitussi, Sinaloa, 2019, color digital print, image courtesy of Museo Amparo
Santiago Arau, Huitussi, Sinaloa, 2019, color digital print, image courtesy of Museo Amparo

“La conservación de la naturaleza no es un lujo, es una obligación del Estado.  /  The conservation of nature is not a luxury, it is an obligation of the State.”  – Julia Carabias

  

Pirámides / Pyramids

Santiago Arau, Teotihuacán, Estado de México, 2018, color digital print
Santiago Arau, Teotihuacán, Estado de México, 2018, color digital print

“Los sitios recónditos casi no existen. Todo ha sido previamente mapeado, pero aún son infinitas las miradas posibles.  /  Unexplored places are almost nonexistent. Everything has already been mapped, but there are still infinite ways of looking at the world.”  – Sergio Rodríguez Blanco

  

Pasado Histórico / Historical Past

Santiago Arau, Paquimé, Chihuahua, 2019, color digital print
Santiago Arau, Paquimé, Chihuahua, 2019, color digital print

Arau is compared to 19th century explorers who documented Mexico’s landscapes and archeological sites, and early 20th century photographers whose aerial views defined urban maps. With Territorios he reveals that the cities of Mexico are a testimony of cultural syncretisms – various combinations of histories, religions, and politics – that have shaped the country’s cultures.

Santiago Arau. Territorios is on view at Museo Amparo through January 10, 2022. The project catalogue, with nearly 300 photographs and six essays on the series, was published by Sexto Piso.