Whenever I hear the word “destino”, I automatically think of the lyrics from Manu Chao’s Clandestino – it’s like an automatic reaction. And there is something about that word that always makes me pay attention.
And that’s how I found out about Takoma Park (right here in DC!) photographer Michelle Frankfurter’s new project that goes by the same name. Destino chronicles the full path of Central American immigrants through Mexico and across the border. You can say what you will about migrant issues and all sorts of policy and social implications that it may or may not have, but the bottom line is that for me, I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who are willing to risk their lives in pursuit of a better life regardless of where one might be migrating to or from. For us, we came to the US without hardly anything, like most, but we did have the good fortune of arriving on a plane and with a visa. Not many are so lucky, and when you don’t have that good fortune, the alternatives are often dangerous and exploitative yet still worth it to some people for the freedoms and opportunities that we have here that many take for granted.
Ms. Frankfurter has completed most of her project, but will still be heading out for the last leg of her trip, adn arguably the least safe one. I first hear of her through her Kickstarter video, and if you’re so inclined, you can contribute to her project, even at $1.00, so that she can travel the last leg with the appropriate “fixers”. If you’re feeling more generous, then you can receive a signed limited print from the project which seems like a unique way to both invest in art and artist. So often I go to exhibits and shows, and while the art or pictures might speak to me, I don’t necessarily feel a personal connection to the creation process behind it. So I think it’s particularly neat to have that opportunity. And if this whole project weren’t commendable enough, Ms. Frankfurter is shooting the whole project on 12-exposure rolls of film for her Bronica camera. When digital shots are a dime a dozen, knowing that each shot has to be very carefully chosen and composed (sometimes while aboard the roof of a moving train) that adds more depth to each frame of the story.
Ms. Frankfurter has the eye of a documentarian but the heart of a storyteller (which incidentally, also makes her quite the wedding photographer) and while you’ll find lots of photographs of young men on the journey on her blog and website dedicated to the project, the photographs that really moved me were the ones of young mothers with their children or young couples. I think that there is something about putting family and children through that kind of a journey that really calls out how much you’re willing to risk for the hope that there can be something better out there.
There are several interviews with Ms. Frankfurter but start with Daylight Magazine for more background on the project and how it started.
All photos by and copyrighted to Michelle Frankfurter – used with permission.