National Highway


The Acapulco-Zihuatanejo National Highway has been a symbolic place in my life for various reasons. A day before I enrolled at the university to study medicine, I was driving along it when an accident took place right in front of me. I was paralyzed by the horror of the scene and decided to study economics instead; I felt I couldn't ever face the sight of wounded bodies again. It is connected to some of my most vivid and exciting memories. When I was a little girl, I used to go along part of it on the way to school and at weekends, I use to drive along the length of it from Acapulco to Zihuatanejo. What I found on the journey were not simply places you pass by, as they were for most people and instead the most valuable part of the journey-an outdoor, linear museum. Years later, driven by curiosity, I went back to the road to explore what I had seen from the family car.


I began my exploration in the town where I grew up, San Jeronimito, the starting point for all my trips. I went back to all the places I was forbidden to see as a girl yet which I found fascinating, such as the part of the town that had flooded in the 1950s or the rubbish dump next to the highway. The same thing happened with people. I looked for the teacher who intrigued me because he wore the same suit every day and the woman who kept her daughter locked in a cell because she was "possessed by the devil" and used to decorate her house with toys; I gradually photographed each of them. Then I visited all the towns I had seen on my trips, which I had never visited on foot until now. As I explored them, I saw myself in both the past and the present. It is quite clear to me that memory does not reproduce things. It works a little like the imagination, because sometimes my recollections did not coincide with my current impressions. During my wanderings, I also ran into new people and looked for others I had been told about. I was not mistaken. A person with a fascinating life story ends up reflecting it in the construction of his or her personal image and intimate spaces.


These images are traces of a journey I undertake almost as a personal performance that links me in a new manner to this place. They are the creation of a representation that symbolizes my intrusion. I unintentionally used places and characters to create my personal imaginary. I delved into the present as a means of giving life to something that no longer exists through representation and as a way of momentarily recovering the past.


Melba Arellano


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