Photographer:Mariceu Erthal García
Continent: North America
Country: Mexico
Project Title: Absence
Project Continent: North America
Project Country: Mexico
Nominated By: Beth Wald
Seconded By: Frank Meo,

Absence is a word that constantly crosses Latin American countries such as Mexico, where approximately 200 people disappear every day, but how is this pain articulated? Where words do not exist because they are muted by the tearing, new languages manifest themselves, many of them barely clear, unconscious, and pain is the one that speaks. In a symbolic journey, I approach these vestiges, what used to be a garden and is now abandoned, a cracked swimming pool, a cut-out portrait, the hand of a father searching for his daughter.
I also wonder about what poetry can say about violence.
In a performative act I wore the dress of Gemma, who disappeared in 2011, I slept in the room of Iriana, a daughter separated from her family by migration. Intuitively I wanted to feel their stories, in an impulse also to understand my own.
This project explores the story of three women with a word that resonates in common; absence. This symbiosis of stories is united by forced disappearance, migration, and family violence, which breaks ties and leaves gaps. To talk about a social reality, I submerge myself in intimate spaces, believing in how much a gaze can communicate.

Letters to Gemma

Self-portrait in the dress of Gemma who disappeared in 2011 with her father s hand She left home for a job interview and has been missing ever since 2017 Veracruz Mexico br br After wearing Gemma s dress with the first feelings I experienced I wrote this letter to her br br I walked by your door that remains open waiting for you to enter smiling as if anything had happened a delay on the bus a meeting with a friend or you just lost track of time reading a book as you liked to do As if these years had not eaten the walls and turned off all the lights in the house But today only I arrived br You were my age when your dreams were destroyed and since I heard your story I am afraid that someone will turn off mine and if today I disappear knowing your story they would read mine because I inhabit your spaces I recognized and embraced the tired eyes of your parents and I cried your interrupted story br Your kindness the religious union with your mother the flowers you cultivated your connection with the water and the sad memory of your desire to live will always be painfully breathed in these spaces and I without knowing you do not stop feeling you br br br

Painful path

In the experience of meeting Gemma o found some poems that she was writing knowing her sensibility marked me deeply This image is the only one taken outside Veracruz and her living spaces It is a place of mine as a reference to the feeling of her presence with me 2017 Queretaro M xico

Beads and butterflies

Gemma s fantasy jewelry in the hands of her Mother 2019 Veracruz Mexico

Gemma cropped by her parents to deliver her portrait to the authorities for research purposes.

Gemma was a girl with very deep friendships reviewing the family photo album I found this photo cut I asked her parents for the reason and they told me they cut her to give a recent portrait of her for the Public Prosecutor Office Her Friends like her parents remain very affected by her absence 2019 Veracruz M xico

"Waves of the sea" Self-portrait

Self-portrait in the Gemma s pool where she used to swim before school and is now cracked and abandoned 2018 Veracruz Mexico br br Poem by Gemma M vil br Wait 2 br The waves of the sea will arrive light as sand to the watery shore that you can no longer step on br and then maybe you feel confused br You must wait and not shout because your screams will be muted br


Portrait in the garden of the house of Iriana s parents Cuban migrant who left Cuba following her dreams Ana and Enzo her parents treasure the memories with her And they welcome strangers as if they were their daughter when I arrived at their home they told me welcome you are our daughter for a week Cuba 2019

The look of a mother

Portrait of Gemma mother of Gemma Mavil 2019 Veracruz M xico br br I saw it in her eyes the weight of the pain and the years sleep just a few hours die every day The first months years do not leave home until you have to go to the stationery because time does not stop grandchildren are born and you have to help to take care of them and sometimes smile at them with the sadness inside Thinking in your daughter alive somewhere you still hear her scream for help Thinking of her dead in some forgotten piece of land Also you must leave the house for the doctor because your back is broken and you are going blind for spending so many night hours with your eyes open and the tears accumulated The look of mother of a missing person is never forgotten By Mariceu br br

Flowers are waiting for you

Nature in Veracruz overflows settles in its gardens and avenues the pain too Veracruz is a place that accumulates missing people and violence one of the most cultural beautiful and violent Mexican states I took this photo in Gemma s garden which even with her absence and abandonment does not stop blooming 2017 Veracruz M xico

A father's fight

Gemma s mother lives the absence of her daughter in her own exile from de world her father lives it outside shouting demanding and dedicating all his days to look for her He says that he promised to Gemma that until the last day of his life won t stop looking for her 2019 Veracruz Mexico


Family file photo of Gemma when she was 15 years old and her quincea era dress She was saving up to go to work in Canada before she disappeared She was very close to her family and had very deep relationships with her friends 2019 Veracruz Mexico