Markel Redondo is 32 and reading 2666, a book by Roberto Bolaño.
MOSSLESS: The title for your most recent body of work, In God’s Hands, guides the viewer in a very deliberate manner. It creates this sense of precariousness even before the first image is seen. Why did you decide on this? What significance does it hold for you and the body of work which follows?
MARKEL REDONDO: I wasn’t sure about the title of project but during my journey, while documenting, I found victims, survivors, heroes. Every single one of these men, women, and children express their belief in God when they speak, as God is the only one they trust. To them, God is always present. Faced with so much risk, so much injustice, what else can they do but leave their lives in God’s hands.
ML: How did you come about this project?
MR: I have always been interested in migration an human rights issues and after a meeting with the Spanish NGO Ayuda en Acción, in Bilbao, spain, we discussed the possibility of working together on this project. We were talking at the beginning of going to work on the story for 2-3 weeks but in the end I ended up spending nearly 3 months. It is a huge project and we thought we needed time to work on it properly.
ML: As is mentioned in the brief introduction and emphasized in the accompanying multimedia piece, this journey that the migrants take is especially dangerous. Did you have any concerns and expectations going into this project? And even more importantly, what did you find along the way?
MR: I was a bit worried before i went to Central America and Mexico as It was my first time to go to this part of the world and with the news about the massacre in Tamaulipas Mexico, where 72 migrants were killed, just a few weeks before I went, I knew it was going to be tense. What I found is that many Central Americans leave their home countries for better working opportunities, to provide for their families and escape the violence. I learned that it is desperation what drives a person (a father, child, a young girl) to leave everything.I belief that these people don’t have a choice. In order to survive, these men, women and children have to leave their country, and in doing so, they leave everything behind. Even after receiving warnings that the trip is tough and dangerous, and life in the U.S. is not easy—they will embark on this arduous journey to migrate. I met people like Luis from El Salvador. After living most of his life in the United States he was deported last year back to El Salvador. As a result, he was separated from his daughters, who stayed in the US, without their parents. Luis tries to speak to his daughters once a week, while he tries to migrate back to the US. He knows the way is getting harder with kidnaps and security is tough in the border but he has no choice. He claims, “They want to take my daughters away from me”. Also met Edu Arturo, a 17 year old from Honduras that lost his right arm after falling from a freight train during his first attempt to reach the United States from Mexico. Despite the devastating accident, Edu tried crossing the border on two other occasions, and failed. Still, he remains determined to continue trying until he succeeds. I visited Edu at his home in Cedros, a poor central region of Honduras. Despite the hardships endured, he said, “I am confident I need to go back because here I can not do anything”.The same emotions of hope and despair that drives this young man to cross the border, leads hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans to risk their lives to reach the United States. The United Nations estimates that 25 million Latin Americans immigrated to this country last year, of which approximately 20% are minors.
ML: It is clear that you have included video and sound with your photographic practice. Are you thinking of pursuing documentary film-making for future projects?
MR: This is my first multimedia project and after seeing the results and how people are reacting to the multimedia piece I think I will keep working on mixing photos, video and sound as I believe is a very powerful way of telling stories. For the moment I am not thinking of pursuing documentary film-making but who knows where this new venture will take me.
ML: Where are you going next?
MR: I am now preparing some new projects in Spain about the economic crisis and then I might be going to Mexico to work on a new project.