La Frontera

Curated by Julie Grahame

Featuring Stefan Falke

With this long term project I document cultural activities in what used to be some of the worlds most dangerous cities along the US/Mexican border. Since 2008 I photographed 180 artists along the entire 2000 miles long divide to show the vibrant cultural side of a region that is usually portrayed by the international media with the sole focus on violent crime. The border has particular significance to me since I was born in Germany where a wall divided Berlin and my country until it came down in 1989. Meanwhile the steel ‘wall’ between the US and Mexico is growing in length and hight and does its part to create a physiological and physical barrier between the two countries. But it cannot not stop cultural exchange.

Artists are the pulse of a society and I believe if we ignore the cultural side of troubled places, we will soon stop caring about them all together. I photographed both internationally renowned as well as only locally known or even unknown artists. Each one has a positive influence on their community in one way or another, often by their highly visible creations like murals and sculptures in public places.

Stefan Falke was born in Paderborn, Germany, in 1956. He lives in Brooklyn, NY, and photographs stories and portraits for international magazines and shoots movie stills for film studios. His last long term project ‘MOKO JUMBIES: The dancing Spirits of Trinidad’ resulted in a book of the same title. His current and ongoing long term project is titled LA FRONTERA: Artists along the US Mexican Border. He has to date visited and photographed 180 artists along the entire length of border. The photo book La Frontera was just published in Germany and Falke is currently searching for an American publisher for this project.

Falke joined the prestigious German photo agency ‘laif’ in 1999.