Publisher: The Velvet Cell
Shortlisted for "2021 Paris Photo - Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards"
Mexico-based photographer Alejandro Cartagena’s photobook “Suburban Bus” uses the bus as a vantage point to take a closer look at people and their everyday struggles, and at social change and divisions. Cartagena, who commuted by bus to his family’s restaurant in Juarez every day between 1993 and 2004, watched the city’s rapid, devastating growth from 66,000 inhabitants to 144,000 in the span of only five years and is intimately familiar with the observations and insight that are unique to the perspective of the frequent bus passenger.
In the photobook, Cartagena puts the reader in the seat of a bus for a 352-page long commute that will last from dawn to dusk. We see others waiting at the bus stop in the morning; we see the bus fill with other lonely strangers on their daily ride; we glance out the windows at the world outside, at the cars driven by single drivers, at the advertisements, the suburban and urban landscapes; we see the type of passengers change as the day goes on and the bus passes by different neighborhoods. The immediate experience of reading through “Suburban Bus” comes surprisingly close to the experience of a long, daily bus ride, and the book is remarkable for its immediacy, its connection of personal observations that form a greater picture.
“The German sociologist [Georg Simmel] claimed that metropolises created the psychological conditions and sensorial foundation for mental life. In line with this viewpoint, this book invites us to read everything that seeps in from the outside, crisscrossing the bus windows; the city as it gradually wakes, the neighborhoods of diminutive identical houses where the passengers in these buses probably live, the overgrown parks, the predatory adverts.”
— from Ximena Peredo’s essay “Fleeing from the Journey” (included as an afterword in “Suburban Bus”)