World

Photos: Documenting the fate of indigenous villages in Mexico






"The thrust of civilization is commonly imagined as an arc curving ever upward. From the Industrial Revolution on, innovation, comfort, health and wealth have seemed to expand and improve limitlessly for much of the world. But take a long look at the remote, sinking town of Santiago Mitlatongo, in Mexico, and that arc appears to slump — and not just graphically. The geologic term is “slumping”; its foundation diminished by erosion, Santiago Mitlatongo is sliding down its mountain at a rate of about a meter per day.

The photographer Matt Black has been seeking stories of the indigenous tribes of southern Mexico and the migrants to the Central Valley of California for 10 years, traveling back and forth and documenting the effects on these changing cultures and economies. His series, “After the Fall,” which was first published in the September/October issue of Orion Magazine, is narrow in scope — it’s just one remote Mixteca town upended by a slow-motion tragedy — but the themes it illuminates are vast, implicating the last several centuries of North American history begun by Columbus’s landing 520 years ago this Friday (though observed in most of the United States on Monday).

“Here’s the story of this town where literally lives turn upside down,” said Mr. Black, 42, who first photographed this pre-Columbian society in December. “It looked like the entire town had gone through a blender,” he said."

Get the Story:
Lens: Weighed Down by History, a Town Slides in Mexico (The New York Times 10/8)