5 journal | Issue 2 | Family

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ISSUE two

5

FAMILY issue | 2

september 2017


FAMILY Issue 2

5 Journal

PHotoGRAPHERS

co-founder / Editor David “Dee” Delgado

Ed Alvarez

@dee_bx

c0-Founder / designer Katie khouri

@inthebx

trevon blondet @blackblondeimages

@katie.khouri

Melissa “Bunni” Elian

copy Editor Bianca farrow

Jesus Emmanuel

@hellobunni

@bianca_farrow

@luzazulstudios

Contact US

Nicolas Enriquez

hi.fivejournal@gmail.com

@nicolasenriquezphoto

Follow

jess kirkham

@five.journal

@jess.kirkham

Cover photo

Groana Melendez

Alli and Belson in Coney Island, 2017. "This photograph is a part of an ongoing project focusing on my sister, Alli, from her early teenage years to present." © Jessica Kirkham

5 Journal is a theme-based publication designed to showcase great photography. Copyright © 2017 All work herein remains copyright of the original artists and has been printed with permission.

@groana

Cynthia Rivera @cynthiarivera_photo

Nina robinson @ninarobinsonnyc

Heriberto Sanchez @atraves_del_lente

Elias Williams @elias.williams

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ED ALVAREZ . TREVON BLONDET MELISSA “BUNNI” ELIAN JESUS EMMANUEL NICOLAS ENRIQUEZ . JESS KIRKHAM GROANA MELENDEZ CYNTHIA RIVERA NINA ROBINSON . HERIBERTO SANCHEZ ELIAS WILLIAMS pg 12

pg. 4

pg. 8

pg. 6

pg 62

pg. 16

pg. 76

pg. 10

pg 46

pg. 92

pg. 30

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Mother and child. South Bronx, 2017.


Trevon blondet is a self-taught “born in the Bronx” photographer. He was exposed to photography by his father who was fond of family photos and New York City’s landscape.


JESUS EMMANUEL is an artist working in documentary and fine art genres incorporating

photography, video, and bookmaking. His work explores themes of healing and empowerment.


Ana Teresa carefully watches my dad, Angel Luis, while he showers by himself for the first time since suffering a stroke in May 2016.


MElissa “Bunni� elian is a Haitian-American multimedia journalist. Her personal work focuses on stories from the African Diaspora and issues of structural inequality.


Travis plays with his 5-year-old son. He became a young father at the age of 20 and supports his son through his freelance video production work, but it’s not enough to pay all his bills. He hopes to afford a place of his own one day, but for now lives with his mother and sister.


ever since i was able to wrap my hand around your pinky finger you’ve inspired me

cynthia rivera is an artist and photographer of Puerto Rican descent from Manhattan’s Lower East Side. She currently lives in the South Bronx. The poem and photos are from her project, “my father.”


i hope to always see the world the way that you taught me, to know that there is pure evil growing throughout, but the bits of beauty flourishing in small places are what we must find and cherish


ED Alvarez is a first-generation Nuyorican raised in the South Bronx in the late 1960's. Ed is primarily a cultural and community events photographer, but is now focusing his attention on documentary photography.

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2-year-old Elba Orozco is all smiles as she sits with her mother, Gleny Sandoval, in front of their home in the South Bronx on August 8th, 2014.

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Issue 2 explores family in both the traditional and non-traditional sense. We looked for work that celebrated the support and love that comes from being a member of a tribe, whether by blood or by choice. Dee & Katie

5 CO-FOUNDERS

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Alyssa, Yolanda, and Asia on their roof in Mount Hope, 2017.

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JESS KIRKHAM FAMILY issue | 2


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Yolanda in Poe Park, 2012.


JESS KIRKHAM What's your background? I believe it's important to recognize my own privilege when discussing my photographic process or background. Documentary photography is innately privileged. We are constantly recording, digesting, and sharing our subject’s experiences to provide awareness and knowledge. When asked to talk about our work, it's easy to avoid confronting and sharing our privilege openly. But in this act we are turning our backs on the individuals that let us into their lives. The choice of recognizing it can bring us to love, which is also a privileged idea, but it's something I know, deeply, can work. I am from a small, predominantly white, upper middle-class town on the north shore of Long Island. I am white and was able to grow up physically and financially comfortable in the life my parents had provided. Like many young girls, I survived emotional and sexual abuse throughout my childhood and adolescence. I was able to find photography in my high school’s black and white darkroom and it became an outlet that I used to emotionally and physically express myself.

What inspired you to start this project? The project just happened. I was in my second year of college and I was having a difficult time with my school's mostly fashion and product-based curriculum. My roommate at the time knew my frustrations and my love for documentary photography and she let me borrow her copy of Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. I was amazed at LeBlanc's writing style, how she could transport a reader into the 1980s and 90s, onto the streets of the Fordham and Mount Hope areas of the Bronx. While I was reading

on the train, a woman stopped me and told me she was required to read Random Family when she started her job in the Bronx. She worked at The Bronx Defenders, a non-forprofit defense firm. We exchanged info and she introduced me to the Gonzalez family. Mr. Gonzalez was being represented by The Bronx Defenders to regain custody of his children after they had been placed in foster care. Once the family was reunited, I started photographing them.

Tell us about your shooting process. It differs when I photograph the girls compared to the boys. Kenny, Zek, and Jeremiah have always been difficult to photograph, especially when they were younger. They kept a distance that was hard for me to break through and sometimes still is. The photograph of Kenny and Zek sitting on the edge of the light house in Riverside Park is a good example. Photographs of them are usually pulled back. There's always been an invisible line that I'm afraid to cross with the boys. I want to know their deeper thoughts and emotions, but I understand that's hard for a lot of teenage boys. This past year, Jeremiah started letting me in more. We are closer in age and can relate more to each other. He was 14 in the portrait that is included in the article. I have maybe a 100 plus photographs of the other kids, but this is one of the only photographs I've taken of Jeremiah in the past five years. That day I knew he was home, I forced myself to bring my 4x5 into his small bedroom and exposed the sheet of film. This portrait carries a significant amount of weight for me because we didn’t interact much then and now our relationship has evolved into a friendship. Yolanda, Asia, Alyssa and I are close. There isn't much to the shooting process and it's

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Kenny and Zek at the lighthouse in Riverside Park, 2013.

actually pretty cheesy...in the best way. Our shooting process could either be singing and dancing to Fifth Harmony on their apartment building's roof or playing basketball in Riverside Park (they totally winning and me totally failing). When I put my camera to my face, they’ve learned not to move. Sometimes Alyssa will jump into the frame or make a face and I lose the moment, but I’m just happy to be spending time with them. There is so much appreciation and admiration I have for the girls and that is what pushes their side of the project forward. Being able to watch them grow from young to teenage girls has been amazing. Their personalities and interests are evolving. They are finding who they are and what they love.

What were you most surprised to discover while working on this project? The first few years of the project, I spent a lot of time following the kids around the Fordham neighborhood of the Bronx. We would meet at their apartment on Bainbridge Avenue and I would run after them as they climbed the fence to their elementary school, played on the gazebo in Poe Park, or in the lot behind their building. The way they interacted reminded me of a pack of wolves. Each had their own personality and function, but it served the group as a whole. There was less individuality then, that helped them stick together. Now the kids are older and are settling into their own. They are developing

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Asia at the lighthouse in Riverside Park, 2013.

their interests and personalities. They are becoming complex individuals and it has been amazing to watch them grow.

how has this project made you reflect on the idea of family? I sometimes feel very detached from my own family and friends because of the trauma I deal with. Trauma survivors often feel they are damaged in the eyes of people that don’t understand. Although the experiences of the Gonzalez family are very different from my own, there is a mutual awareness that we have. In college, I was advised by one of my professors that I should be careful and create distance between myself and the Gonzalez family. Distance was never an option for me.

Through the years, most of my projects are focused on survivors of trauma. This is a community that keeps growing and holds a lot of love. Photography has brought us together, our traumas have brought us together. This is my ever-growing family.

Have your subjects seen your work? If so, what was their response? Yes, they have. They laugh most of the time or comment on how much they’ve grown.

What's next for you? Well, it’s been five years so...I guess, keep going. View more of Jess's work at @jess.kirkham

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Asia and Zek on Grand Concourse and East Tremont, 2016.

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Sisters in Poe Park, 2012.

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The girls watch their brothers from behind a fence, 2012.

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Yolanda in Central Park, 2017.

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View from the Gonzalez family's roof in Mount Hope, 2017.

“THEIR PERSONALITIES AND INTERESTS ARE EVOLVING. THEY ARE FINDING WHO THEY ARE AND WHAT THEY LOVE."

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Jeremiah playing video games in the boy's bedroom, 2013.


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Blessed. April 2016.


ELIAS

THE BROTHERHOOD OF MULLALY BIKE PARK

williams


ELIAS WILLIAMS

What's your background? I’m a documentary and portrait photographer born and raised in Queens, New York and currently living in the South Bronx. I focus primarily on long-term projects that highlight misunderstood or underrepresented communities.

What inspired you to start this project? During the summer of 2015, I visited the “Boogie on the Boulevard” program in the Bronx. With a personal interest in cycling, I gravitated towards Mullaly Bike Park’s “Intro to BMX” program. Kids from the community were learning how to ride over mini ramps on balance bikes, as parents and volunteers of the bikepark guided them. After making a few pictures, of the program I was approached by Brendan Vail. Vail, plays a pivotal role in Mullaly Bike Park’s nonprofit organization and is a member of the Underground Never Dies (UND) BMX crew at the park. He handed me a brochure describing the park’s history and its need for funding to keep the park in shape. I felt a need to contribute in some way, but I never considered a long-term project. Later on, a photo I made of the “Intro to BMX” program was featured in The New York Times. Brendan noticed and suggested I stop by the park. Brendan introduced me to other members of the UND crew, Rob, Lou, Black Rambo, Skillz, Todd, and Remo, who were in

the middle of building ramps for a trail-style section of the park. Almost instantly I felt welcomed by the UND crew, and every rider that came through showed the same love. Even though I didn’t own a BMX bike, I was never treated as an outsider. I thought it would be tough to connect with the community and learn about their culture, but the reality

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BMX riders and the Bronx community working together to move a ramp on It’s My Park Day. May 2016.

was the opposite. Throughout the day, I witnessed a brotherhood among passionate people who educate, help, and protect each other all in the name of UND. By the end of the day, I decided to begin making work for the community that represents UND’s values of brotherhood, DIY (Do-It-Yourself), and PMA (Positive Mental Attitude).

Tell us about your shooting process. For the first four months, I was using a D700 and failing hard in my first attempts in “Super Hardcore Photojournalist” image-making all while truly wanting to slow down and make images on color film within a 6x7cm frame. Eventually, I returned to using my RZ67

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Rob's office, Mullaly Bike Park, February 2017. Lou, left, teaching Rob, center, guitar notes. Lou and Rob, founding members of UND, have been a part of the park's life since 1988. The two play an essential role in the construction of the ramps built at Mullaly and the positive experience of being here.

and working predominantly in a conceptual manner through portraiture, still life and text, while continuing to make photographs in the reportage style.

to the work have been positive, along with some of the best heckling in American history. Every few months I’ll bring stacks of prints for riders to take or hang in the garage at the park. They really appreciate when you take the time to do something like that.

WHAT WERE you most surprised to discover while working on this project? If you spend any amount of time here, you realize this place is a community center more than it is a BMX park. When people aren’t riding they’re hanging out, listening to music, freestyling, playing catch, racing RC cars, practicing heavy metal songs on electric guitars and once in a blue moon, someone might play chess. You can’t be here and not have a good time.

how has this project made you reflect on the idea of family? The project is still in progress, but every time I leave the park I reflect on what UND and the rest of the Mullaly Bike Park community represents; brotherhood, independence, and positivity. This place would not have lasted for nearly three decades without these qualities.

What's next for you?

Have your subjects seen your work? If so, what was their response? Having the community see the work is the main objective of the project because the work is made for them. So far the responses

Learning how to safely ghost ride da whip along the Grand Concourse.

View more of Elias's work at eliaswilliams.com / @elias.williams

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Joan launching over a box jump during a BMX Jam at Mullaly Bike Park. August 2016.

"EVERY TIME I LEAVE THE PARK I REFLECT ON WHAT UND AND THE REST OF THE MULLALY BIKE PARK COMMUNITY REPRESENTS; BROTHERHOOD, INDEPENDENCE, AND POSITIVITY." FAMILY issue | 2


BMX riders taking a rest between their sessions around Mullaly Bike Park. August 2016.

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David, 2016.

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One of the benches that riders of Mullaly Bike Park like to hangout at. July 2016.

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Courtney. June 2016.

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Danny doing a back-flip on the hip ramp. August 2016.

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Joshua. 2016.

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Located next to the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, Mullay Bike Park sits on the site of a long-forgotten ice skating rink. The park was started in the 1980’s by Victor Ortiz and fellow members of the BMX crew the Rad Dogs.

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Vincent. May 2016

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NINA ROBINSON Cousin Jayla’s mother does her hair before a birthday party. Dalark, Arkansas.

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NINA ROBINSON What's your background? I'm a portrait and documentary photographer, with a strong focus on underrepresented communities. Through visual storytelling, I aim to break the prejudices of race, class, and age.

What inspired you to start this project? This project was never planned and I hadn't been back to Arkansas in 15 years. Three years ago, I set out to tour the South and make portraits of my fellow travelers and hear their stories. My grandmother fell ill and passed away in the first week of my trip. During that time, it felt like I was surrounded by death. Three family members and two friends died, from illness, suicide, and murder, in seven short months. I released my pain in the only way I knew how, by capturing all of the moments of love, union, family, and sorrow unfolding before my eyes. "Not forgotten: An Arkansas Family Album" became a way to reconnect with family and honor my ancestors.

Tell us about your shooting process. I had no intention to do a project on my family so extensively or show it publicly. I had no intention for the world to see my feelings--essentially that's what this body of work represents, inner feelings expressed visually. I just shot what I felt. My camera was connected to my hip. I brought it with me everywhere even in the most uncomfortable situations. I didn't photograph every day, but I had my camera there in case I felt an urge to take a picture.

What were you most surprised to

discover while working on this project? Many things surprised me. How long I stayed, how connected I was to Arkansas, and my decision to move from New York City to the rural South. I've never had a desire to live in the South, but after doing this project Arkansas' pull became very strong.

how has this project made you reflect on the idea of family? In this career as a freelance photographer, I've made many sacrifices including moving away from my family and starting a completely new life in New York. I'd go a year or two without seeing family members (15 years without seeing my mother's side of my family). I'm at a point in my life where I want to make a 5 journal | 48


Aunt Jean standing under a tree near Grandma’s house, gazing up at the sky. Dalark, Ark.

conscious effort to spend more time with the people I love.

Have your subjects seen your work? If so, what was their response? Every one of my family members have seen this work, but witnessing my mother's reaction affected me the most. She moved away from Arkansas when she was 18-years-old and started a new life in California. Over the years she would visit periodically, but her connection to the South had been lost for some time. My mother saw my work for the first time on gallery walls at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock. She was overwhelmed with emotions, memories triggered. One picture, in particular, she stared at for a while, the image of me holding my grandmother’s

hand. Tears stream down my mother's face as she looked at that photograph. She remembers being in the room when I prayed over my grandmother, when she was in pain.

What's next for you? After my move to Arkansas, I've been keeping busy working on assignments for publications such as Harpers, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and others. "Not Forgotten: An Arkansas Family Album", will continue to reveal itself as I stay documenting and creating portraits. There are stories within stories and I find myself working in chapters. I do plan on working on a book in the next year. Stay tuned. View more of Nina's work at

ninarobinsonphotography.com / @ninarobinsonnyc

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Grandma was in excruciating pain and could barely breathe, but asked to hold my hand and for me to pray over her. Dalark, Arkansas.

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Grandma’s favorite chair sits in the corner of her room, pillow still mushed down. Dalark, Arkansas.

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Grandmother's house. Dalark, Arkansas.

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Aunt Reva unloading her keyboard from the car to play during church service at Mount Olive, A.M.E. Church, Dalark, Arkansas.

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Cousin Miyah shows off as she devours her caramel apple just days before Halloween. Dalark, Arkansas.

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Aunt Reva with a head full of curlers before she performed with her gospel band at Mount Olive A.M.E. Church. Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

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“I'M AT A POINT IN MY LIFE WHERE I WANT TO MAKE A CONSCIOUS EFFORT TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH THE PEOPLE I LOVE."

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First Missionary Baptist Church. Sparkman, Arkansas.

Albert and Gracie Neal pose for a portrait during the Sparkman Training School's church program. Established in the early 1950’s, the Sparkman Training School was an all black segregated school. Every two years since 1981, classmates and teachers return to celebrate the school's legacy. Sparkman, Arkansas.

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Cousin Miyah and Libby on 4th of July. Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

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N I C O L A S


E N R I Q U E Z


What's your background?

Tell us about your shooting process.

I was born in Cali, Colombia, in 1993. At the age of 6 my family decided to migrate to Ecuador to escape from the Colombian armed conflict. I grew up in Ecuador and lived there for 13 years before moving back to Colombia, where I first started to have an interest in photography. At the age of 20, I was able to travel to New York to study at International Center for Photography, and it was then that I started documenting the Latin Kings. I have a very strong commitment to photographing stories related to immigration, urban conflict, and human rights issues.

My shooting process for a project like this one, documenting the Latin Kings, is very long and based on trust. Before all the shooting starts I am very honest with what my intentions are, what I will be doing there and what I will do with the images. I brainstorm the story, do research, and I try to build a visual narrative of the work, usually by drawing sketches in a notebook or writing keywords of moments and situations that I will need or I am missing. After all of this is done the actual shooting starts. I like to feel comfortable while I am shooting, and the best way for me to do that is to make the people I am shooting comfortable with my presence. If there is a soccer game and they invite me, I will go and play soccer that time, and the next time I will take photos. This allows me to get closer, learn more and develop a more personal view on the work I am producing.

What inspired you to start this project? It was my first year living in New York, and I was very curious about the city and its inhabitants. I started to visit different neighborhoods in the city and meet people, most of them Latinos like me. My goal was to document a community that I identified with and that would show me the New York I was looking for, a real one. Gangs were not new to me; what was new to learn was that this Latino gang started as group to fight against racism. They were creating comfortable spaces for Latino teenagers and families that arrived in a new country. For me, the Latin Kings were, and still are, an inspiring group and documenting them generated a lot of questions that needed to be answered. My inspirations have been always my mentors Andrew Lichtenstein, who has guided me as a photographer, and Joseph Rodriguez, whose work still inspires me every day. They have both been a big influence in my work and I can't thank them enough.

What were you most surprised to discover while working on this project? What surprised me the most have been the leaders of the chapters of tribes. In New York I met Smokey who at 25, was the leader of the Brooklyn tribe of the gang; he was like an older brother and a father for all of the people following his orders. It went beyond a guiding leadership; he was organized and he studied their own literature so that he could share his knowledge with the people listening to him. He was constantly proving to everyone why he was in charge without violence or fear: he used education, friendly advice, family advice, work advice. 24/7 he was thinking about

NICOLAS ENRIQUEZ


Karen's baby, Kirell, sleeps at his home in the Bushwick projects. His uncle, Smokey wants Kirell to be part of the gang when he grows up.

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Gangs have their own security systems to keep themselves safe from other gangs or police officers. Some are selected to stand outside the projects, patrol the area and communicate to the gang if there's anything suspicious.

his brothers and sisters and how to improve together as a group... without individualism.

how has this project made you reflect on the idea of family? The importance of a stable family environment is something I always think about, and how the lack of opportunities for Latino and African American communities affect the stability of the family. This inflicts a massive weight of responsibility, fear, and pressure on the younger family members. More than once I have been asked what could help this gang, considering the violence and criminality that surrounds them and my answer will always be education. We can look at the work done by priest Luis Barrios who opened the doors of the church he worked at to the Latin Kings. What was his goal? Personal advice and to educate. Priest Barrios wanted to learn

“THE IMPORTANCE OF A STABLE FAMILY ENVIRONMENT IS SOMETHING I ALWAYS THINK ABOUT, AND HOW THE LACK OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR LATINO AND AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITIES AFFECTED THE STABILITY OF THE FAMILY.“ from them--from their actual intentions and how to reach them without violence. Police officers were also welcome during these meetings. For a while this changed the course of the gang and several leaders for good and it also changed Luis as a priest. Access to free, quality education is a must. Change is needed

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A gang member yells "amor de rey" or "king love" at his group while they're looking for "Trinitarios", members from an enemy gang in a subway station.

for everyone, for both sides, not just for these groups or communities.

Have your subjects seen your work? If so, what was their response? The people I photograph are constantly seeing the work I do. It's very important for me to share with them what I am doing. The response is always diverse and we discuss the importance of the work and why it needs to be shared. I've probably discussed the ethics of my profession more with the people that I photograph than with other photo colleagues. Misunderstandings happen and they just need to be explained.

What's next for you? I am currently working with the Latin Kings in Europe, and I am experimenting with new

ways of photographing from polaroids to 360 virtual reality. Working with the gang here in Europe and building a strong body of work that represents them and their organization is important for me. This gang was born from immigrants and I have to migrate in order to tell it. The big Latino immigration to Europe started in the late 1990's and early 2000's, so these Latino gangs are new here compared to Latin Kings in the U.S. who started in the early 1940's. Here in Europe, they have the same goals of helping integrate other Latinos no matter their nationality. They help them claim their documents, get jobs, learn the language, and surround them with a supportive community.

View more of Nicolas's work at nicolasenriquez.com / @nicolasenriquezphoto

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Trying to avoid security cameras a drug deal occurs on the upper floors of the Bushwick housing project.

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View from Bushwick housing projects.

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(Clockwise) Members of the Latin Kings gang wait outside jail for gang leader Smokey to be released. He had been locked up for possession of a gun and drugs. The Latin Kings meet at one of the headquarters of the gangs in Bushwick. Their monthly meeting often take place in parks or abandoned houses. Gang members Poppa and Teflon pose for a photo taken inside their apartment in Bushwick. Teflon is now in prison for missing court date.

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“From here I can shoot the J train� is what B-Rad said to his brother-in-law Smokey. B-Rad is not a Latin King; he is a member of the Ysquad Gang that rules a small neighborhood in Brooklyn. FAMILY issue | 75


Bushwick housing projects, home to the Latin Kings, Ysquad and the Bloods.

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Smokey, the leader of the Brooklyn tribe of the gang.

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GROANA MELENDEZ

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GROANA MELENDEZ

extended family nor learn how to read and write Spanish. So my mother made sure I was raised between both cities Santo Domingo and New York City.

What inspired you to start this project?

What's your background? I was born in Brooklyn, New York, to two immigrants from the Dominican Republic. I was my mother’s only child in a new city. My mom’s biggest fear was that being born abroad I wouldn’t have a chance to get to know my

I would watch American television where kids would stumble upon their family history through heirlooms, time travel, or story-telling. I didn’t know much about my family history. When I asked my relatives for information, I realized no one knew much information beyond my grandparents’ story, I spent a lot of my childhood looking through

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my family’s photo albums searching for clues. Along with the family albums I found expired identification cards and passports. Every curled edge or pen mark made my imagination run wild.

Tell us about your shooting process. In 2011, I was invited by Projecto Ace, a non-profit arts organization in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to be an artist-in-residence. They gave me access to their printmaking studios to create photolithographic work. This was my first time working with the process so I decided to take a very explorative approach

to working with the patterns and images that created my family’s identification documents. I was really interested in the color schemes of the passports and how it would print on different papers. For the actual photos, it was less important for me to print on different papers than it was to get the best impression of them on paper.

WHAT WERE you most surprised to discover while working on this project? I was really excited to work with my hands again. It had been a while since I had access to a darkroom. Creating photolithographs

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reminded me of my love for analog processes and working with my hands. I was also surprised about how excited it made me to work with a press. This was also the first time I realized how drastically passports have changed over time. It made me curious as to the choices countries make in changing their designs. For example, I’m very attached to the background pattern of the US passport from the 90's; it’s not because I’m an 80's baby either; the new design is objectively cheesey.

how has this project made you reflect on the idea of family? While working on it I was thinking about how

clinical and dry the definition of an individual is according to the “State.” After reflecting on that, I realized how constructed the idea of family is and how blood relation isn’t the only definition of “family.”

have you shown the people you photographed the work? If so, what was their reaction? I like to keep my projects away from my family. It’s less of a collaboration than it is a reflection I create. The response I usually get is a chuckle, and the question, “Why did you choose that picture of me?”

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What’s next for you? At the moment, I’m looking for opportunities to complete the project. Right now, each piece is one of a kind, since I was learning the process for the first time. So I’m searching for ways to get back into a printmaking studio. So far I’ve been focused on my “straight” photography work. I have a few exhibitions coming up in the next year, so definitely keep on the lookout for more details.

See more of Groana's work at groanamelendez.com / @groana

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"I REALIZED HOW CONSTRUCTED THE IDEA OF FAMILY IS AND HOW BLOOD RELATION ISN’T THE ONLY DEFINITION OF “FAMILY.”


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HERIBERTO Grandmother on her way to church. Tulcingo Del Valle, Puebla. 2016


SANCHEZ


My nephew in Tulcingo Del Valle, Puebla 2016.

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HERIBERTO SANCHEZ What’s your background? I was born in Mexico and raised in the Fordham section of the Bronx. I’ve been involved in the arts since high school, where I learned to work on lithographic printers, graphic design, and many other mediums. In college, I studied art history, modern art, and more. As soon as I got into college, I enrolled in a few courses on the of fundamentals of photography. My learning of the medium was limited, but it didn't stop me from practicing and exploring my own style of photography. In a way, I was self-taught by looking at photo books, documentary photographers, exhibitions, and admiring cinematography.

What inspired you to start this project? Last time I visited my Pueblo, my photography skills weren't well developed. When I see those old photos now, they are an eyesore to me. The other main reason was my abuelito (grandfather) and bisabuela (great-grandmother) passed a few years back. So those events motivated me to capture my family and my Pueblo more.

Tell us about your shooting process. I always start by visualizing a storyboard in my head and mentally sketch the scene or moments I would like to capture. Not everything goes as planned, I always could add and subtract scenes in my storyboard. It all depends on the surroundings, like good and bad light, composition, layering, framing, ect.

What were you most surprised to discover while working on this project? As I start snapping the moments, I’ve noticed I slow down even though my surroundings are fast

paced. That ability has helped me to understand what’s going on, what I can capture and control the scene in a way.

how has this project made you reflect on the idea of family? Capturing family moments is essential. I remember as a kid every time we went out to a party or a trip. I always saw my mom carrying a film or disposable camera. It was really annoying getting your picture taken, smiling and shouting “cheese” as a kid. At times I uses to throw away the negatives and photos. For me, those things didn't have any value whatsoever. Looking back now, I regret doing that, I now understand my mother wanting to take pictures and cherish the moments with me and my sisters. So now and then I take pictures of my family, without them knowing of course.

Have your subjects seen your work? If so, what was their response? No, they haven't seen the photos.

What's next for you? I would like to continue documenting and capturing everything as much as I can. There are a lot of stories to be told in my borough (The Bronx). If I don't, or anyone for that matter, document and capture the stories they are going to be lost in time and never see the day of light. Like the line by Roy Batty in Blade Runner, “I've seen things you people wouldn't believe… All those moments will be lost, in time, like tears in rain. Time to die”.

View more of Heriberto's work at @atraves_del_lente

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My uncle and aunt getting married for the second time in Tulcingo Del Valle, Puebla 2016.

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“CAPTURING FAMILY MOMENTS IS ESSENTIAL. I REMEMBER AS A KID EVERY TIME WE WENT OUT TO A PARTY OR A TRIP, I ALWAYS SAW MY MOM CARRYING A FILM OR DISPOSABLE CAMERA.”

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Midday mass in my grandfather’s hometown, Tulcingo de Valle. Puebla, 2016.

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Celebrating la Virgecita late at night with torito fireworks.Tulcingo Del Valle, Puebla, 2016.